Home to Coal

Photographersarah Hoskins
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

These images are from Lynch, Kentucky in Harlan County. Eastern Kentucky has been in the news more lately, especially these days as Donald Trump bangs his drum about bringing coal back to the region. I didn’t find any working mines prior to Trumps election, nor have any reopened since. What I did find was a small proud community, and an old mine that gives tours. I hope these images might give the viewer a glimpse into a place that has been in the news an awful lot lately, but the light not often shining on them.


Home To Coal Coal Mining might have died, but not pride of place. “I worked as a mine inspector for 28 years and only two people died in the mines.” 2016 saw numerous articles and images on Eastern Kentucky, its people and coal, few containing African Americans. I was invited to Lynch, Kentucky in September 2016 for a special weekend celebrating the Pastor’s church Anniversary these are a few from images from that visit, which won’t be my last. Lynch was founded in 1917 by the U.S. Coal and Steel company. The company bought 19,000 acres for the town and built everything from houses and stores to a hospital and baseball field. At its peak, Lynch had about 10,000 residents, but is now down to below 1,000 today. That doesn’t mean it’s not home to those who still reside there.

About Photographer

Sarah Hoskins is a documentary photographer; currently her time is split between Chicago and Lexington. Her 16 year project The Homeplace: Photographs from Historic African American Hamlets in Kentucky’s Inner Bluegrass Region was just featured on NPR's Weekend Edition as well as NPR's Picture Show. She was chosen for the 2010 Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series at The Art Museum at The University of Kentucky. Her photographs have been included in over 100 exhibitions and are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the Center for Photography at Woodstock, CITY 2000 (Chicago), the Lubbock Fine Arts Center, and the City of Chicago. In 2009 she received funding for her Homeplace project from The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Alice Rosenwald Flexible Fund for Schools. Her work was recently renewed for the third time at The Museum Of Contemporary Photography's Midwest Photographers project in Chicago. Her work was selected for Photography Now, 100 portfolios an international survey of photographers sponsored by Eastman Kodak. Her documentary photography projects have been featured in American Photography Annual 19, American Legacy Magazine, Foto8, Photo District News and The Digital Journalist. She is the recipient of several fellowships and grants, most recently for her long term project The Homeplace: Photographs from Historic African-American Hamlets in Kentucky, which she is currently working on. Hoskins is also an educator. She was a guest lecturer in 2010, 2007 and 2004 at the prestigious Women In Photography Workshops at Empire State College in New York City. She has introduced documentary photography to teens and adults who have never had the opportunity to express themselves with a camera before. She is on the Illinois Arts Council Arts In-Education Roster to teach documentary photography in the state of Illinois, she has received two Illinois Arts Council Short-Term Residency grants to teach photography to homeless men, women, and children.