Art City Asks: C. Matthew Luther

Most of us would avoid landscapes ravaged by industrial chemicals, PCBs, heavy metals and the like when we’re aware of them. But Milwaukee artist C. Matthew Luther seeks them out. He finds a sense of mission and subjects for photographs, paintings and videos in such places.

Here in Wisconsin, Luther has identified 60 Superfund sites, uncontrolled or abandoned places contaminated by hazardous waste. He has visited many in order to document the conditions and make artworks based on what he finds.

“It is an element of ignorance, hubris and unconscious blindness that has led these sites to become polluted,” Luther said, adding that he feels a sense of responsibility to document such tragedies and the processes by which they are declared Superfund sites by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which created the Superfund designation in 1980 as a means to mitigate damage and hold polluters accountable.

It’s also personal.

“I have my own

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