Spirit of Iron Range captured in upcoming photo exhibit

The photographer Richard Colburn will be hosting a series of exhibits on the Iron Range over the next few months.

Colburn’s primary subject has been the people and places of the upper Midwest. He’s spent some time on the Iron Range over several years and will be displaying his work at these exhibits.

Lyric Center for the Arts; Virginia, Minnesota
June 17 – July 9, 2011

Minnesota Discovery Center; Chisholm, Minnesota
July 16 – Sept 17, 2011

Mesabi Range Community and Technical College; Virginia, Minnesota
Sept 21 – Oct 20, 2011

Colburn writes:

The photographs in this exhibition were selected from work competed over a period of twenty-five years. I began photographing in the communities of the Iron Range in the 1980s.  I had been photographing in the steel towns of Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio, and communities in the Mahoning River valley observing how they responded to the collapse of the American steel industry. When we moved to Iowa I realized that Minnesota’s Iron Range was part of that same story.  The Range communities were a much more attractive place in which to photograph with their lower population density, fresh air and scenic views. Statistics describe the economic change that was taking place. In the late 1980s the number of jobs attributable to iron mining in Minnesota was 15,000, at present there are approximately 4,000.
I quickly realized that even in the face of serious economic change, life goes on. The communities of the Iron Range embrace their traditions and celebrate their history with events that are wonderfully photographable. Whether it is The Eveleth Clown Band playing their familiar songs coaxing parade goers to swing their hips and laugh, or an annual July Fourth gathering in a backyard, life goes on.
The persistence of tradition during economic and cultural change became a subject for my photographing throughout the rural upper Midwest. There are economic shifts in the traditional economies of the rural upper Midwest that parallel those in the Iron Range.
Life goes on.

Colburn has done a fine job capturing the little elements that make the Iron Range what it is. His work catches the ordinary and mundane, the picturesque but also what would seem ugly out of context.

In order to enjoy life on the Iron Range, with the people who actually live here, you must understand that truth and beauty will not be presented to you in traditional ways. Yes, we have glorious displays of nature in our region. If you come here just for nature you will be crushed. I have seen this happen to countless friends and colleagues. Colburn has found flashes of Iron Range truth and beauty in his photography. You should check it out.

1) Calathumpian Parade, July 4th, Biwabik, Minnesota 1985
2) Fall Meeting, Eveleth Clown Band, Hoagies Bar, Eveleth, Minnesota 2008
3) Kotzy’s Backyard and Garden, Eveleth, Minnesota 2003 
4) Natatorium, V.C. Reishus School, Closed 2003, Biwabik, Minnesota 2003

Richard Colburn photos used by permission.  

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