Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mark Schmerling remembers Judy


This Mark Schmerling, a photographer who has made many trips to southern West Virginia to document the horrors created by the coal industry and perpetuated by our corrupt government.
Judy as seen by
Mark Schmerling
I met Judy in September, 2006, at the Coal River Mountain Watch office in Whitesville, and made a few photos there, before Judy had to be someplace else important. After that day, I was fortunate enough to spend at least a bit of time with Judy on a few occasions. My initial impression of her indomitable spirit, her inspirational presence, and above all, her immense love for her fellow human beings, remains firmly intact.

Attached are a few photos. The black and white of Judy was taken in front of the CRMW office in September, 2006. The three color photos were all taken May 8, 2007, when Judy was one of the eloquent members of the Coalfield Delegation to the United Nations Commission on Sustainability, in New York City. In two of these photos, Judy and her companions are listening to some of the music from the anti-mountaintop removal concert held that evening. In the other, she is speaking at an anti-MTR press conference earlier that day.

Judy's actions and her memory inspire me to keep making photographs that tell the real story of coal, the people affected by the industry, and those brave individuals, like Judy, who fight for justice, simply because it's the right thing.

When I looked through my camera lens at Judy's face, I was drawn deep beyond her toughness and her iron will, into her beautiful eyes, and these eyes spoke love for her fellow highlanders, and for all humanity.

Peace and justice.

Mark Schmerling

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