Extracted Landscape

This project focuses on the systemic extraction of resources from the land that has taken place in Pennsylvania for the last two hundred years, specifically anthracite coal and slate, and the landscapes that emerge as a result. They are an exploration of the current state of the landscape and its relationship to its own past and to our future. Much of the land in Schuylkill and Northumberland Counties was at one time heavily used for anthracite coal mining but has been largely out of use since the 1960s. The years of mining have left the landscape in a state of upheaval with its surface torn, scarred, and redistributed into rock piles, barren boulder fields, and massive craters. The remnants of the industry, however, remain and new marks are made upon the land as it is repurposed for recreational use. Overlaying the tracks of massive dump trucks and bulldozers are the smaller, delicate tracks of dirt bikes and four wheelers taking advantage of the seemingly abandoned nature of the land. We have drastically altered the land and given it a new topography that has little semblance to its former self and has remained frozen in this state long after industry left.  


Greta Kathryn Bergstresser was born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She pursued an early interest in photography and was selected to attend the selective Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts. Greta graduated with a B.A. in Art from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2004 and proceeded to get her M.F.A. in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.

Greta has been teaching photography at both Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and Lafayette College in Easton, PA since 2007 focusing on analog, digital, alternative processes, and documentary photography.  She has been included in numerous group shows around the country including shows at Lehigh University, the Barrett Art Center, the Midwest Center for Photography, the Texas Photographic Society, the Silver Eye Center for Photography, the RISD Museum, and more.  She has had solo shows at Albright College, Western Illinois University, Arlington Art Center, and more.

Greta’s work tends to focus on Pennsylvania in various areas including Extracted Landscapes, a large format, black and white project focusing on the landscapes of former coal mining areas in Pennsylvania and both closed and functioning slate mines.  Guns, Gold, and Going Green is an ongoing autobiographical project focusing on her self-sufficient living and desire to live in nature.

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