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Jim Mason, Medicine Man, Burnham, New Mexico

Carlan Tapp
Jim Mason, Medicine Man, Burnham, New Mexico
From the series Question of Power
Gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
Courtesy of the artist
© Carlan Tapp

After the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York in 2001, Carlan Tapp abandoned his practice in commercial photography to dedicate himself to socially concerned photography. Tapp, who lives in Santa Fe, has spent the past five years examining the social and environmental impact of mining in the United States for his series Question of Power. Within it is work about coal mining on Navajo Nation lands, made in the Four Corners area (where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet), that illustrate the hardships of living in close proximity to active mining operations. In this picture, Jim Mason poses in front of the hogan (pronounced “HOE-gone,” a combined living and ceremonial structure) where he grew up.

In January of 2006, he told the artist: “The ceremonial plants are dying from the pollution which falls from the sky. Their roots are dead. We no longer have the plants we need for ceremony. The blasting of Mother Earth for the strip mine shakes the ground I stand on every day. The walls of my hogan suffer great cracks caused by the blasting. My sheep can no longer drink the water.”