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Photographer: Maureen Beitler
Exhibit Title: Westernport
Location: United States
Westernport is a town few people have ever heard of. It is both a real place and for me, growing up in urban Baltimore, a mythologized place of reverie from my childhood. It is the birthplace of my grandmother and as a young girl I heard endless stories about the mountains, the town, the mines and how our family survived. My great grandfather was a coal miner and according to family legend, died young from black lung disease. Throughout the years of my childhood, the idealized myth of “Westernport” only grew in my imagination because, in fact, I had never seen it. It is a town that lies hidden deep in the Allegheny Mountains of western Maryland. Like many towns in the region, coal is still extracted from the earth by successive generations of men toiling in the mines. What began as a personal search into my family history has evolved into a deeper photographic exploration of the people of the region, the mythic landscape and the realities of a hardscrabble existence living in an American town in decline.
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