New York Times reporter Michael Cooper linked to our Anthracite Coal Region webpage on which we reported about the work of local Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania artist Bob McCormick. The article is in the Arts section of the April 5 New York Times.
Bob grew up in the same coal patch town as my grandmother in Schuylkill County called Big Mine Run. We spoke about this connection when we had a chance meeting at composer Julia Wolfe’s performance of Anthracite Fields at the Weis Center at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA on Saturday, April 1. Mr. McCormick, the grandson of a coal miner and a railway man, said Ms. Wolfe’s compositions “elevated our ancestors travails to a universal height.” Mr. McCormick also exhibited seven pieces of his art at Ms. Wolfe’s more recent Rider University, Trenton, NJ performances of Anthracite Fields on April 21 and 22.
Julia Wolfe’s haunting and masterful contemporary piece indeed honors our anthracite coal-mining ancestors including those who were child laborers called “breaker boys.” Ms. Wolfe won the Pulitzer Prize for this piece and has since won a MacArthur Genius Grant. I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Wolfe that day in Lewisburg. The composer told me that she is particularly touched to bring the work back to Pennsylvania amongst the people to whom it means the most because at each performance she meets people with connections to the mines.