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Photographer: Maureen Beitler
Exhibit Title: Westernport
Location: United States
Westernport is a town that few people have heard of – once thriving, the population is now less than 2000. It is both a real place and, for me growing up in urban Baltimore, a mythical place. It is the birthplace of my grandmother and as a young child I heard endless stories about the mountains, the town, the mines and how our family survived hardship. 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 who toil daily in the mines. My great grandfather was a coal miner who died at a young age from coal workers' pneumoconiosis (black lung disease). The project, which began as an exploration of my family history, has evolved into a deeper photographic encounter with the region, the desolately beautiful land and those who still call Westernport their home.
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