Don Burmeister

Conus Marietta Ohio  Don BurmeisterConus, Marietta Ohio ©Don Burmeister
Reception Nov 30, 2006  6 to 8 PM

  Safe-T-Gallery is pleased to present “Ancient Earthworks of 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 relics of early Native American civilizations and the often baffling modern environment that surrounds them.
Scattered throughout the mid-western and southern 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 park lands 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.”
   Critic Stephen Maine writes on , “His large, crisply detailed color photographs ... are quietly stunning.... Burmeister’s interest is clearly in the clash between the sanctity of the cemetery and the profanity of the encroaching strip malls and housing developments. The pictures chillingly capture that tension.” <link> While Carol Schwartzman writes in Wburg magazine, “(his photographs) offer a stunning context for process and the strange twists taken by time and its historical-minded bedfellow, culture. These pictures somehow grab me right in my American belly.” <link>
   The exhibition opens on November 24th and runs through December 23rd. There will be a public reception for the artist on Thursday, November 30th, from 6 to 8 PM at the gallery.


Pinson Mound Tennessee
Pinson Mound, Tennessee©Don Burmeister

More Mounds