Chris Mortenson : Tumulus
On view 6 September - 13 October 2019 in the Main Gallery
The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum is pleased to present Tumulus, an exhibition of photos by Chris Mortenson in the museum’s Main Gallery.
Chris Mortenson is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Mortenson attended The University of South Dakota where he earned a BFA in Art with an emphasis in photography. He then went to The University of Iowa earning an MA and MFA In Art witha concentration in photography and a Minor in printmaking. His work has been shown nationally and internationally and he has an upcoming show at The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum in Moorhead.
The Mesabi Range in Minnesota is a geographical area that spans 110 miles from the towns of Grand Rapids to Babbitt. Subterrainly noted by an elongate trend of cherty Precambrian iron-rich deposit, The Range produces seventy-five percent of the iron ore in the United States. There are currently six mines producing ore and many that have been exhausted or abandoned along the expanse. The ore is removed through open-pit mining leaving vast and deep scars on the landscape, but the unusable soil—known as overburden—which is removed to get to the iron-rich deposits below is piled into small mountains along The Range, leaving the geographic area in a constant state of topographic flux.
Tumulus is a visual investigation of this human-altered landscape, but it is also a document of the cultural and societal complexities of The Range. It is an area that is largely dependent on the economical might of the mining industry, yet subject to market booms and busts. As the country has moved further away from a manufacturing-based economy, The Range has seen its own economic hardships, although foreign demands for iron have helped to ease those.
This work will offer no answers to the environmental, economic, cultural, or societal complexities facing the Iron Range, but it allows the viewer the chance to question their own relationship to these images and landscapes.