Coal Hollow
September 5, 2008 – January 4, 2009

Coal Hollow juxtaposes 40 photographic images by Ken Light with written texts and oral histories by Melanie Light (Smith class of 1980) focusing on the residents of former coal mining communities in southern West Virginia. The images show a wrenching level of material poverty, yet also the resident’s sense of pride and self-sufficiency. The accompanying oral histories allow the people in the images to express themselves directly, providing an additional depth and texture to the portraits. As a project, Coal Hollow is a complex portrait of people locked into an intricate web of geography, history, and unfettered profiteering, driven by an industry that produced both the most powerful economy in the world yet also crushing poverty across an entire region. 

This exhibition was organized by Ken and Melanie Light. Presentation at SCMA is supported by the Louise Walker Blaney (class of 1939) Fund for Exhibitions.

For more information on this body of work please visit

All images are gelatin silver prints © Ken Light. Courtesy Ken and Melanie Light and Barry Singer Gallery.