Reflections on the Bluebird Mine

The men stand with their lunch buckets and miners candles dressed for work. The photo may have been taken in a Boulder studio, but these men were miners through and through.

One of the requirements of being chosen for the Caribou Ranch Open Space Artist-in-Residence program is that you donate piece of artwork inspired by your time at the DeLonde barn.

In a way I cheated on mine. Because of my prior history with the ranch, I had photographs taken of the Bluebird Mine bunkhouse in 1966. I was interested in the window with the reflection of the mine dump and the small architectural detail above the window. The photo lived on my design wall most of the summer before my residency began in September. I would ponder it at odd moments, thinking about what fabrics to use and how to go about the construction.

I am also the keeper of many family photographs, mostly from the Yates’ side that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. During that time my great-great-grandfather, Reverend Joseph Yates, and his large family arrived in the Boulder area.  From that treasure trove of photos I remembered a photo taken of my great-uncles, Ari and Oda Yates. I knew this would be the perfect image to include, but how would I do it? I soon remembered the organza I had for printing on with an ink jet printer, and the idea of their ghostly image in the window was born.

Almost all of the Yates men were miners and worked in various mines in the area. Although I have no proof that Ari or Oda worked the Bluebird, I think there is a good chance that one of my many Yates uncles may have.

Reflections on the Bluebird Mine also includes fabrics that I rusted (the shutters) and fabric from my earlier flower dyeing (the crossbars on the shutters). There are many layers to this piece if you know what to look for.