Beneath the Dirt of Great Men

Beneath the Dirt of Great Men


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In June, 1921, the construction of an oil derrick on a section of land, named Block #1, began near Big Lake. Two years prior, Frank Pickrell had purchased the leasing rights on 431,360 acres of land in West Texas, which was generally known as university land that had been set aside by the state of Texas, for $2500. The Texon Oil and Land Company began to sell stock, “certificates of interest,” that provided a .0004882 interest in Block #1 for a mere $200 per certificate.

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Some of the stock salesmen had engaged a group of Catholic women to invest in the Group 1 stock. These women were a little worried about the wisdom of their investment and consulted with a priest. He apparently was also somewhat skeptical and suggested to the women that they invoke the help of Santa Rita, the Patron Saint of the Impossible! As I was leaving New York on one of my trips to the field two of these women handed me a sealed envelope and told me that the envelope contained a red rose that had been blessed by the priest in the name of the saint. The women asked me to take the rose back to Texon with me and climb to the top of the derrick and scatter the rose petals, which I did.

Frank Pickrell, Texon Oil and Land Company on the discovery of oil in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

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Once known as the “petroleum graveyard,” Beneath the Dirt of Great Men draws attention to this carbon landscape of oil production, including the markers of drilling rigs, pumping stations, and waste water evaporation ponds in the fracking process for crude oil extraction, which is now driving a second energy boom in the Permian Basin of Southeast New Mexico and West Texas. Today, leasing mineral rights can cost as much as $40,000 an acre, and well drilling rigs with fracking operations can cost about $8 million each to raise the over 3 million barrels of black gold each day.

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Beneath the Dirt of Great Men is being developed for the EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss project.

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Related Materials for Download

Beneath the Dirt of Great Men   |   Information and Image Checklist

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Photographs


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Portfolio Books


 

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Portfolio Book Details

3 Volume Set  |  27 photographs

9 archival inkjet pigment prints per portfolio book  |  19 x 13 inches and verso

20 x 14 inches  |  covered with Shizen screen printed paper from India with vellum title page

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Reference Map


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