For Immediate Release
Laurie Steelink
Images available upon request

APRIL 8–MAY 12, 2006

In conjunction with the release of photographer Ken Light’s most recent book, Coal Hollow: Photographs and Oral Histories, Track 16 Gallery presents, “Coal Hollow,” an exhibition of the photographs included in the publication. These works will be on view from April 8 through May 12, 2006, with an opening reception and book signing on Saturday, April 8 from 5 to 7 P.M., followed by a discussion with Ken and Melanie Light, a DVD presentation, and music by Cliff Wagner from 7 to 9 P.M. Regular Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 6 P.M.

Coal is still king in much of Appalachia, yet the heritage and history of the people who enabled the United States to become an economic superpower in the Industrial age are slipping away. Ken Light documents this culture by presenting arresting black and white photographs that chronicle the legacy of coal mining in southern West Virginia. Ken and Melanie Light traveled hundreds of miles through rugged, isolated terrain recording the stories of a range of people whose lives were shaped by coal: retired miners, men and women who have been jobless their entire lives, a contemporary coal baron, a justice of the State Supreme Court of West Virginia, a writer who bravely ran for governor on a third party ticket, and people who returned to the hills when their lives failed elsewhere. What emerges is a complex portrait of people locked into an intricate web of geography, history, and unfettered profiteering. In Light's poignant images and in their own distinctive voices, the residents of Coal Hollow, a fictional composite of the communities the Lights surveyed, reveal how the intersection of mountain culture and the greed of the coal companies produced the most powerful economy in the world yet reduced a region of proud people to crushing poverty.

Ken Light is Adjunct Professor and Director of the Center for Photography, Graduate School of Journalism, at the University of California, Berkeley. Among his books are Witness in Our Time: Working Lives of Documentary Photographers (2000), Texas Death Row (1997), and Delta Time (1995). Melanie Light is Executive Director of

Coal Hollow; Photographs and Oral Histories (University California Press, 2006,) with forewords by Orville Schell and Robert Reich will be available for purchase for the duration of the exhibition. For more information, please visit our website at