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Artist uses images to drive Tar Creek environmental discussion
Tar Creek Chat Pile, by Rhona Shand McBain

Artist uses images to drive Tar Creek environmental discussion

Rhona Shand McBain, an art professor at Pittsburg State University, believes art can help heal a damaged environment. McBain’s photographs and other art will play an important role in a presentation and discussion on the Tar Creek environmental disaster at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, in the Overman Student Center’s Governors Room. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Rhona Shand McBain, an art professor at Pittsburg State University, believes art can help heal a damaged environment. McBain’s photographs and other art will play an important role in a presentation and discussion on the Tar Creek environmental disaster at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, in the Overman Student Center’s Governors Room. The presentation is free and open to the public.

The presentation, “Bouquet: Tar Creek Community Project,” will also include Craig Kreman, an environmental engineer and assistant director of the Quapaw Tribe Environmental Office; Cathy Sloan, an environmental specialist; and Ally Rickey, an environmental technician.

McBain has been working with the Quapaw Tribe since the spring of this year. She said “Bouquet” is a project that uses the power of art and education to raise awareness of the environmental work taking place at Tar Creek.

"When you drive through Picher, Okla., the first impression you get is that you are driving through a ghost town,” McBain said. “What most people miss is that the story of Tar Creek is far from over. Sadly, most of the people in the Four-State area think the story of Tar Creek was finished when the residents of Picher and Cardin were relocated. But there are still mountains of chat and issues of a semi-abandoned town to navigate and currently, the runoff from the chat goes into streams that feed Grand Lake.”

McBain praised the Quapaw Tribe for the work they are doing to repair the damage to the environment.

“Today the tribe has to buy the land back in order to perform remedial action involving the excavation, hauling, and disposal of tons of source material or chat,” McBain said. “They have multiple cooperative agreements with the EPA and the tribe has been nationally recognized for their efforts with Tar Creek. Other tribes come from across the country and globe to learn their methods.”

McBain said the presentation on Monday will show not only what is being done currently in Tar Creek, but also show the possibilities for classroom projects and other research opportunities connected with Tar Creek efforts.

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