PR: Marcellus Shale Documentary Project


Marcellus Shale Documentary Project

curated by Laura Domencic

Artists: Noah Addis, Nina Berman, Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith, Lynn Johnson, and Martha Rial

on view: June 29 – August 18, 2013
opening reception: Saturday, July 13, from 5 – 8pm

CPW is proud to present the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project. Curated by Laura Domencic, Director of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, this photographic survey, compiled over a period of 10 months beginning in late 2011, features the work of six photographers who have taken on the responsibility of documenting the lives of Pennsylvanians affected by Natural Gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region.

The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project seeks to draw on the power of photography to inform and move public opinion on important social issues. It follows a photojournalistic tradition, established in 1935, when the U.S. government initiated the Farm Security Administration which sent a group of photographers to document the conditions of those affected by the Great Depression. Just as the resulting photographs humanized the tragic stories of loss and deprivation in the mid-twentieth century, enabling the nation to become unified in its understanding of the era it was experiencing, the photographers featured here help visualize one of the most contentious issues of our time – our struggle between our need for energy and our stewardship of natural environments.

Employing distinct photographic approaches, Noah Addis, Nina Berman, Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith, Lynn Johnson and Martha Rial “reached out to farmers, homeowners, and tenants; medical practitioners, engineers, and legal professionals; casual protesters and full-blown activists; to people who feel they have benefited from gas drilling, and to those who feel they have been victimized; to people whose lives have been forever changed, for better and for worse,” observes photographer Brian Cohen.

By creating a visual document of the environmental, social and economic impact of Hydraulic Fracturing, better known as “fracking,” this project aims to engage communities in the current Marcellus debate while providing important historical images for the future. Not intended to moor to any particular side of the heated debate, the photographs in this show simply seek to explore and document, prompting dialogue and lending yet more visibility to this ongoing story.

Accompanying the exhibition is an online archive and book, with essays by journalist Michelle Nijhuis, photographer Brian Cohen and foreword by curator Laura Domencic.

[one_half first] Noah Addis (Columbus, OH), who in his long-running Future Cities series and project on the Colorado River has plumbed the effects of human development in locations across the globe, examines the Marcellus Shale region and its inhabitants from angles both grand and starkly intimate, presenting solemn portraits alongside sweeping images of the changing landscape.

Politically and socially-oriented documentary photographer Nina Berman (New York, NY) has broached topics such as American militarism in her monographs, Purple Hearts—Back from Iraq, and Homeland. For the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project she has addressed both the natural and human response to fracking, capturing impassioned local communities and newly-industrialized stretches of farmland.

London transplant and internationally exhibited artist Brian Cohen (Pittsburgh, PA) enters the Marcellus Shale dialogue with panoramic visions of the Pennsylvania countryside and moving,
oft-harrowing images of the region’s residents.[/one_half] [one_half]Widely acclaimed globe-trotting photographer Scott Goldsmith (Pittsburgh, PA), whose work spans 49 U.S. States and 10 foreign countries, has engaged the fracking debate on large yet startlingly personal scales, depicting the towering new machinery of the Pennsylvania land and the families grappling with its effects.

Photojournalist and National Geographic-contributor Lynn Johnson (Pittsburgh, PA) has illuminated the Marcellus Shale region’s “accidental activists” in arresting black-and-white while also filtering the ongoing saga through the lens of her iPhone in a series of online “impressions.”

Pittsburgh-native and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Martha Rial (Pittsburgh, PA) captures moments of monumental change amidst the Pennsylvania countryside in her images of farmers and rig-workers. [/one_half]




While this exhibition directly references Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania, the far-reaching effects of these drilling techniques reverberate beyond state lines and borders. The initiative of this project, to use photography as a means of informing and engaging the public, is in standing with CPW’s steadfast belief that photography is a most valuable prism through which we can explore and understand the world around us.

The inaugural exhibition of the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project was at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in October 2012.

The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project has been made possible thanks to the significant financial and moral support of the following: The Sprout Fund, The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz
Endowments, The William Penn Foundation, Josh Whetzel, Nancy Bernstein, and Cathy Raphael.

The presentation of this exhibition its related programs at CPW have been made possible in part with funds from the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the Wade A. Thompson Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, with support from Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Upstate Films, as well as members and individuals like yourself.

Laura Domencic is Director of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, a space committed to the artist and the advancement of artistic excellence in visual arts. She was instrumental in rebuilding and stabilizing the Center and negotiating the merger with Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

Also acting as the Center’s artistic director, she has curated several exhibitions including Paintings and Works on Paper, Maxo Vanka, and the 2005 and 2008 Pittsburgh Biennials. Prior to that, she worked at Pittsburgh’s Society for Contemporary Craft and Sweetwater Center for the Arts. Domencic holds a BFA in Art from Carnegie Melon University. She studied photography and textiles at the University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

A day-long series of events will take place in conjunction with the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project on Saturday July 13.

11am – 12:30pm: Panel discussion with exhibition artists and environmental advocates, moderated by curator Laura Domencic. Location: Upstate Films located at 132 Tinker St, Woodstock, NY 12498.

2pm-4:30pm:  Special Film Screening followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. Location: Upstate Films located at 132 Tinker St, Woodstock, NY 12498.

These events are free and open to the public Advanced Registration is required. Visit for more information.

5-8pm: Exhibition reception. Location: the Center for Photography at Woodstock, 59 Tinker Street
Woodstock, NY 12498.

Additional events will be announced in the coming weeks. Visit for more information. CPW invites groups and individuals to schedule tours and gallery talks of the exhibition.