An aesthetically and socially significant book that celebrates the human spirit; it is this spirit that shines through the coal dust in the faces of miners, in mothers struggling to protect their children, and in ravaged but resilient communities. Builder Levy’s photographs and accompanying captions capture the tension, the dignity, and the enduring humanity of the people who live, work, and endure in West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.
For four decades, Builder Levy has been witness to a dangerous industry where workers operate heavy machinery in close quarters underground, extracting ever-increasing tonnage of coal. Over the last two decades, at surface mines, Levy has seen powerful explosives tear apart mountain summits, followed by giant draglines that scoop out the exposed veins of coal in massive, destructive, quantities. He has also witnessed strikes and picket lines, desperation and rage, hope and dignity, and the inevitable natural and man-made disasters that are part of the territory. Intertwining the traditions of fine art, social documentary, and street photography, Builder Levy is part of a grand humanist tradition in photography that includes Lewis Hine, Paul Strand, and Walker Evans. This edition includes sixty-nine spot-varnished tritone photographs.