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Exposure

Photo Essay: Inside The American West's Mining Boom

Lucas Foglia documents how mining is changing the American West.

  • <p>Since 2006, San Francisco-based photographer Lucas Foglia has been documenting communities in the American West through his striking image series, <em>Frontcountry</em>.</p>
  • <p>Traveling through Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada, Foglia explores how the mining industry is changing these communities.</p>
  • <p>The way that both ranching and mining depend on the same harsh landscape intrigued Foglia.</p>
  • <p>"The community felt small and the land felt bigger, harsher, and more remote than anything I had experienced," he says of his first visit to Wyoming, which inspired the project.</p>
  • <p>Foglia shot 60,000 photographs for the series, which he pared down to 60 images for the book.</p>
  • <p>"Mining in the American West is as broad as the landscape," Foglia says.</p>
  • <p>The book explores the gold, coal, natural gas, oil and copper mining industries.</p>
  • <p>At a Wyoming bar, beer cans spill out of a mountain of recycling that is almost as tall as the dilapidated building.</p>
  • <p>Foglia interviewed friends and friends of friends about their lives and jobs in each of the communities he visited.</p>
  • <p>A brawny man lifts enormous weights at the Jonah Natural Gas Field, one of the country's key natural gas sources.</p>
  • 01 /10 | Casey and Rowdy Horse Training, 71 Ranch, Deeth, Nevada 2012

    Since 2006, San Francisco-based photographer Lucas Foglia has been documenting communities in the American West through his striking image series, Frontcountry.

  • 02 /10 | George Chasing Wildfires, Eureka, Nevada 2012

    Traveling through Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada, Foglia explores how the mining industry is changing these communities.

  • 03 /10 | Tommy Trying to Shoot Coyotes, Big Springs Ranch, Oasis, Nevada 2012

    The way that both ranching and mining depend on the same harsh landscape intrigued Foglia.

  • 04 /10 | Stacy before Church, Diamond Valley, Nevada 2012

    "The community felt small and the land felt bigger, harsher, and more remote than anything I had experienced," he says of his first visit to Wyoming, which inspired the project.

  • 05 /10 | Jaime, Ranch Hand, Wells, Nevada 2012

    Foglia shot 60,000 photographs for the series, which he pared down to 60 images for the book.

  • 06 /10 | Coal Storage, TS Power Plant, Newmont Mining Corporation, Dunphy, Nevada 2012

    "Mining in the American West is as broad as the landscape," Foglia says.

  • 07 /10 | Surface Mining, Newmont Mining Corporation, Carlin, Nevada 2012

    The book explores the gold, coal, natural gas, oil and copper mining industries.

  • 08 /10 | Recycling, Eden Saloon, Eden, Wyoming 2011

    At a Wyoming bar, beer cans spill out of a mountain of recycling that is almost as tall as the dilapidated building.

  • 09 /10 | Eden Saloon, Eden, Wyoming 2010

    Foglia interviewed friends and friends of friends about their lives and jobs in each of the communities he visited.

  • 10 /10 | Roger Weightlifting, Jonah Natural Gas Field, Boulder, Wyoming 2010

    A brawny man lifts enormous weights at the Jonah Natural Gas Field, one of the country's key natural gas sources.

Since 2006, San Francisco-based photographer Lucas Foglia has been traveling through the American West to document the mining boom that has overtaken rural areas of states like Wyoming and Montana in a compilation of striking images.

His series, Frontcountry, began when Foglia first visited a close friend who had just moved to Wyoming. "The community felt small and the land felt bigger, harsher, and more remote than anything I had experienced," he tells Co.Design.

For the next six years, he created more than 60,000 images traveling through communities in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming. Frontcountry explores the dichotomy between the two main industries in these sparsely populated areas, ranching and mining. Though the two sectors are in many ways incredibly different, they both depend on the same harsh landscape in a way that intrigued Foglia.

His monograph explores the way that the mining industry—in the quest for everything from coal to copper to natural gas—encroaches on the cowboy lifestyle. No stranger to documenting the intimacies of life in rural America, Foglia's previous project, A Natural Order, followed families who had left cities and suburbs to live off the grid. For Frontcountry, Foglia interviewed friends and friends of friends about their lives and jobs in the communities he visited.

His dramatic photographs juxtapose two different ways of living off the land: herding animals and excavating deposits of metal and oil. In one image, two cowboys attempt to wrangle a skittish horse down a country road set against the backdrop of a lush mountainside. In another, trucks haul earth out of an immense pit mine. At a bar in Eden, Wyoming, beer cans spill out of a mountain of recycling that is almost as tall as the dilapidated building. In another Wyoming town not far away, a brawny man lifts enormous weights at the Jonah Natural Gas Field, one of the country's key natural gas sources.

The photographs have just been published by Nazraeli Press, and will be on display in upcoming exhibits at New York's Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, London's and Denver's Robischon Gallery.

[H/T: Slate]

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Lucas Foglia; 02 / Lucas Foglia; 03 / Lucas Foglia; 04 / Lucas Foglia; 05 / Lucas Foglia; 06 / Lucas Foglia; 07 / Lucas Foglia; 08 / Lucas Foglia; 09 / Lucas Foglia; 10 / Lucas Foglia;

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