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Vanishing Coal

Susan Moffat | MA, United States


I photographed inside this shack in Coaldale, PA. overlooking a structure that says Everybody’s Goal is Mine More Coal. I was drawn to the blue tarp and when I returned this past summer, the shack was gone.

Vanishing Coal is a personal interpretation and search to discover and make sense of my family's roots in coal. I returned to my homeland, the coal country in northeastern Pennsylvania, and explored the remains of Moffat Coal Company, my family's business. During this project, I had the feeling of stepping in and out of a dream. The coal company's shell of the past symbolizes the post-economic decline, typical in many small US cities. The coal industry and its absence take a toll on its people. The work shows the area's struggles and strengths through the lens and examines both sides, including the beauty of crumbling historic architecture and landscape, and the hard lines etched into the people's faces.

Currently, coal is at a critical point, and most recently, I was able to connect with and photograph active surface miners. Without much deep mining, strip mining is less dangerous for the workers but more visible to the ground. There is an effort to reclaim the land and replant it. I continue to unveil the story.

Susan Moffat is an American visual storyteller and educator who was born and grew up in the coal country of Moscow, PA. Her social documentary images explore culture and humanity. The current work, Vanishing Coal, is based on memories and images of coal mining in northeastern Pennsylvania. The ongoing project deals with the after-effects of mining and the hot social interactions in that environment today.

She’s drawn to the humanity and social struggles therein and searches to capture those moments in a striking light. She has taught photography and its history in schools in the USA and overseas. Her imagery includes foreign cultures and she has exhibited both domestically and internationally. She uses the power of photography to tell the story.

Susan has a B.A. in Photography and Environmental Studies from Hartwick College and a MAT from Rhode Island School of Design. 

https://www.susanmoffatphotography.com/

https://www.instagram.com/susanmoffatphotography/

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