“… full of rough beauty… Wittman proves that she has an artist’s eye for extracting telling details, as well as a hunger for depth and texture. Each episode unspooled with a sense of urgency, as of a secret needing to be told. In this wide-ranging, passionate homage to a way of life and a work ethic, it is clear that Wittman and her father are hewn from the same stone.”– The Washington Post, January 2007
Under the artistic direction of choreographer Martha Wittman — a performer and collaborator with the Dance Exchange since 1996 —Imprints on a Landscape: The Mining Project uses a combination of movement, video, spoken word, audio of interviews and traditional and original music to explore the connections between life, labor and landscape in coal mining communities.
“Imprints on a Landscape travels a double path,” explains Wittman, “exploring both the labor of mining and the labor of art. Each transforms something ordinary into something new. Mining turns rock into energy, and dance allows motion to become a story.”
Vignettes focus on the union movement, memories of working deep in the mines, family celebrations, and the banshee, a spirit whose presence evokes the reality of living with the constant, unquestioned threat of tragedy and death.
The piece is inspired by the artwork of Wittman’s father, Michael J. Gallagher, a printmaker who documented life in coal mining communities for the WPA. Gallagher, whose original prints are currently in the collections of the Georgia Museum of Art, Penn State University and the Palmer Museum of Art, was born in Scranton into an Irish immigrant family of coal miners, and integrated scenes from his childhood environment into his artwork.
Mining for Memories, and Leaving an Imprint, The Washington Post