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John Buck

American, b. 1946

The Coal Mine
2000

Woodblock on paper
39 x 63.5 x 1.5 in.
Gift of Driek and Michael Zirinsky in honor of Cheryl Shurtleff and Richard Young
2020.3.4

The Coal Mine depicts a wire cage in the form of a woman housing a crow against a striking backdrop of sexualization, objectification and disfigurement. By titling it The Coal Mine, Buck also references the practice of taking birds (usually canaries) down into mining shafts as way to monitor levels of breathable air—if the bird stopped singing, the miners knew there was a risk of suffocation. By using a stoic crow in place of the canary, Buck further emphasizes the fear and darkness associated with the oppression depicted in the background of the piece.


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