Located between the Eliel Saarinen and Richard Meier wings of the Des Moines Art Center, “Shadow (coal)” locates through material association the history of Des Moines as a center for coal resources in the Midwest.  Early in the city’s history, local coal deposits were the readily available fuel for home industry and transportation.  Underground mining in Des Moines persisted for about 100 years (1840-1947).  Recorded production totaled  50,965,427 tons from reserves of 750 million tons.

32 tons of coal were placed in the former grassy space over a storage vault.  This vein extends through to the west side of building, viewable from the glassed bridge between the wings and from vantage points outside the Center. 

“Shadow” is a reference to time through the stark shiny blackness of the material.  Like earlier works such as the “Tahualtapa Project” (collection of the Seattle Art Museum), material sources become the thematic image for reference to hidden histories and forgotten stories about the land.

This work was purchased by the Des Moines Art Center by a grant from the Bohen Foundation for the permanent



Shadow (Coal) 1995

Des Moines Art Center

Public Art