Land Art in a Wyoming Uranium Mine Ghost Town

Hyperlink and Land Report Collective Members Install Work in Shirley Basin, Wyoming

Photo by Donald Fodness of a hand-drawn map of the Shirley Basin ghost town, noting the placement of a few artworks. The “cow” refers to a dead cow found on the property.

Find my latest art review for Southwest Contemporary, where I witnessed Theresa Anderson, Tobias Fike, Alicia Ordal, and Julie Puma get ready for an exhibition in remote Wyoming.

Photo by Donald Fodness of work by David Lawrence Jones

Here’s an excerpt:

Sitting forgotten on an unmarked county road on the East side of Highway 487, you probably won’t find Shirley Basin, Wyoming, a uranium mine ghost town founded nearly seventy years ago. Its remote coordinates place it beyond unimpeded prairie hills, thirty miles north of Medicine Bow and sixty-seven miles south of Casper. If discovered, your reward is an eyeful of unhurriedly toppling structures, letting you witness over three decades of ongoing decay and abandonment.

Photo by Tobias Fike of work by Summer Ventis

As Hyperlink artists Theresa Anderson, Alicia Ordal, and Julie Puma erected their mixed-media sculptures in the only copse of still-standing trailers, the town blossomed under returned human interest.

These artists traveled from Denver to participate in Re-Activatea group show in collaboration with the Land Report Collective, which shares Hyperlink’s mission to meaningfully unite artists with various communities. Including geographically dispersed members from Colorado, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington, Wyoming, and more, these collectives also seek to connect creatives across physical and digital boundaries and barriers.

Photo by Gina Pugliese

On my own unguided treasure hunt for art, I found a small, windowless white building with an attached cylindrical metal tower, I trepidatiously tip-toed through the open door next to Patrick Kikut’s Snowman Hospice and Wellness billboard (2020), with a snowman advertising ice cream in Laramie, Wyoming. Although I wasn’t trespassing, I felt like an intruder needing a hazmat suit to explore the depths of this miniature Chernobyl. Yet no uranium was mined and no nuclear reactors exploded in this spot.

Inside were tall boxes with switches, dials, and gauges–clunky technology from a bygone telecommunications era. A disorderly vomit of binders and files spilled across the floor. Above me hung Daisy McGowan’s Biopsychosocial (all works 2023 unless otherwise noted), a disco ball, which, at night, scatters luminescent confetti onto an uninviting dance floor.

Photo by Gina Pugliese

Their gusto made me wish that I, too, was an artist invited to visually convey my perverse fascination with a place still bearing the scars of economic, ecological, and industrial devastation. Instead, I shared their productive curiosity about Shirley Basin and their excitement for an exhibition that compellingly blurs the distinction between art and detritus.

Photo by Tobias Fike of work by Daisy McGowan

Check out the full article and find a list of all of my publications here.

Photo by Julie Puma of work by Alicia Ordal

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