Amy Babinec

Abandoned, Golden Rule Mine, Lenzburg, Illinois, 2017
Watercolor, colored pencil, and charcoal on paper, 11 1/4 x 15 inches
An imported English china plate, once a cherished heirloom, now in shards. A pressed glass goblet, once placed on a dining room table, found buried underground. A perfume bottle discovered at the bottom of a coal heap.

These homeless objects give testimony to former lives as valued status symbols. As I discover them embedded in dirt and coal ash, the fragments speak to the pathos of lost of memory, scattered families, and stories no longer passed on. Yet details in their material reality--painted roses, embossed scrollwork, porcelain and glass--attest to loving use.

This project started with a crack, found in the basement of my parents’ home, due to coal mines collapsing underground. Using geologic maps and word of mouth, I tracked down the locations of these abandoned coal mine sites. My latest find is Golden Rule Mine in Lenzburg, Illinois, a gravesite of material culture from the late 1800s and early 1900s. My practice raises these memories from the dead, reconstructing their past lives through research, archaeology, and fantasy.