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Sierra Daily

Jul 25, 2011

Coaled Shoulder

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Last week, British artist Chris Drury completed his ode to beetle-devastated forests and coal emissions, and the sculptural installation on the University of Wyoming campus has already infuriated some local legislators in the coal-mining state and made its way into the pages of the New York Times. According to the university’s art museum, “Carbon Sink: What Goes Around, Comes Around, places beetle-kill pine and coal--both natural resources in Wyoming--in a formal structure derived from a mushroom spore, twisting into a vortex to suggest the natural process of decay, decomposition, and transformation.” The artist put it more bluntly to the Billings Gazette: “I just wanted to make that connection between the burning of coal and the dying of trees.” And the Gazette’s headline was blunter still: “UW sculpture blasts fossil fuels.” The slight to the state’s energy industry prompted Representative Tom Lubnau to sputter to the Gillette News-Record, “While I would never tinker with the University of Wyoming budget – I’m a great supporter of the University of Wyoming – every now and then you have to use these opportunities to educate some of the folks at the University of Wyoming about where their paychecks come from.” Museum officials have no plans to remove the sculpture, which will eventually succumb to wind and weather.

--Reed McManus

Image: University of Wyoming Art Museum

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