Artist's Statement

On July 21, 1930, W.E.B. Du Bois gave a speech that addressed man’s relation to the Housatonic River and its condition. Du Bois described the Housatonic River as the center of the picture. Yet the valley of Great Barrington turned away and used the Housatonic as “a sewer, a drain, a place for throwing waste.” In 1982, similar to Du Bois, I was born next to another river, the Monongahela, in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Andrew Carnegie’s nineteenth-century steel mill, railroads, and bridges dissect and erode the waters. One night the river flooded. Crossing through miles of man-made manufactures, contaminated soils, and debris, it filled the basement and soaked the floors of my childhood home on Washington Avenue, in the area historically known as The Bottom. Growing up there has made me realize that, if seventy percent of the world is covered with water and more than fifty percent of our bodies are comprised of water, then the properties found in waters that surround our artificial environments reflect not only a physical condition, but a spiritual condition in which we exist. Through a series of aerial photographs of the Mon-Valley Braddock region, A Despoliation of Water: From the Housatonic to Monongahela River (1930 – 2013) will reveal that Du Bois’s words resonate with the current environmental crisis along the Monongahela River in Braddock, Pennsylvania.