Photographs by Don Burmeister
October 3 to November8, 2003
Opening Reception Friday, October 3,
2003, 6 to 8 PM
South Charleston WV Mound ©Don Burmeister.
Safe-T-Gallery is pleased to present “Ancient Earthworks of Eastern
North America”, an exhibition of the idiosyncratic, thoughtful, and quite
beautiful images of photographer Don Burmeister. The large-format color photographs
concentrate on the relationships between these very old earthen mounds and effigies
and the often baffling modern environment that surrounds them.
Scattered through out the Eastern and Midwestern United States are thousands
of ancient earthworks, structures that in some cases are as old as the pyramids
of Egypt and that in many cases predate the arrival of Europeans by hundreds
of years. These “Indian Mounds” and ‘Effigy Mounds” numbered
in the tens of thousands when the first European settlers arrived. Over the years
many of the mounds were destroyed, some were simply worn down by years of plowing,
while others were consciously removed from the landscape to make way for the
advance of roads, houses and indeed, parking lots.
But the relationship of the majority culture to these artifacts has always been
equivocal. Early European settlers often used the mound sites for their own sacred
ground, churches and especially cemeteries were often placed at these sites.
Other settlers recognized the special nature of the earthworks and incorporated
them into parklands or central squares. As a result thousands of these ancient
structures still survive in the modern landscape.
The ongoing ambiguous relationship between modern American culture and these
reminders of earlier civilizations is the subject matter for this ongoing photographic
series. “I’m not interested in making pretty pictures of some imaginary
past,” says Burmeister, “My interest is in trying to visualize the
many layers of meaning that are present in what is essentially a pile of dirt
sitting by the side of the road -- right now.”
Fiddle Mound, Anderson Ind. ©Don Burmeister