Appalachia (diptych)
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© Milton Rogovin

Milton Rogovin
American, 1987
Gelatin silver prints


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We went to Alabama. There, I came across this African-American miner. He was just sitting there and resting. I took his picture and asked if I could go to his home. If you'll notice, the husband and wife are standing in front of the Last Supper tapestry. I wrote a little poem that ended up saying, "I wonder how many times did the wife wonder if this would be his last supper?"
-Milton Rogovin
In the late 1960s, Appalachian coal miners became symbols of economic adversity. After numerous summers spent in Appalachia documenting the plight of mine workers there, Milton Rogovin decided to return almost two decades later to expand his series.
This middle-aged miner in dirty overalls, a light flannel jacket, and a patched-up hardhat is probably either taking his lunch break or getting ready to go home. He is seated on a bench next to his lunchbox and with a friendly but rather neutral expression he faces the camera with a pair of glasses in his sooty hands.
In the diptych's second photograph, the man appears markedly different. Clean and dressed up, he and his wife hold hands as they face the camera. Behind them on a paneled wall hangs a tapestry reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's painting The Last Supper -an element adding meaning in relation to the miner's hazardous occupation.