Victoria Sambunaris


For most of my photographic life, my interest has been the landscape. I've journeyed extensively throughout the country in my car for months at a time searching for subject matter. This particular trip was planned around John McPhee's book Annals of the Former World and the I-80, which cuts across the country from New York City to San Francisco. I had been examining glacial boulders and slate quarries in the Pennsylvania area when curiosity and inquiry led me to this particular coal mine in Schuylkill County. Here lies the richest deposit of anthracite coal in the world, along with a fascinating geological and cultural history. Scale and light are key components in my work, and on this particular visit, the day was crisp and dramatic with robust clouds moving through the sky. Light was illuminating the pit as though it were a stage. Both the matriarch and the daughter of the family that owns the mine drove me to the edge, waiting and watching for hours while I circled up and down the slag. This erratic terrain resembled another planet. I was lost in thought as I searched for the perfect view. Once I arrived, I felt truly fortunate to have had all the circumstances work in my favor, as well as the support of the two women who stood behind me.