CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Laura Antrim Caskey has been in the trenches.
"It's pretty accurate to say I've been on the front lines here in West Virginia for quite a while now," said the 43-year-old photojournalist, speaking from her home in Rock Creek.
Caskey moved from Brooklyn to Rock Creek in Raleigh County in 2008 to surround herself with communities and activists caught up in the fight to end mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.
Her work as a freelance photojournalist has won awards and acclaim. In 2010, she self-published a 74-page photographic examination of mountaintop removal titled "Dragline," which was recognized in the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights' annual journalism awards.
Through it all, she has taken other sorts of photographs -- abstract, minimal, nature-centric. It is this change of pace that will be seen in an exhibition of 20 images titled "Secret Garden," at Good News Mountaineer Garage, 221 Hale St. The exhibit opens during the Charleston ArtWalk on Thursday and is up through Oct. 11.
"Realistically, I need this respite," said Caskey, who has worked from Afghanistan to Antarctica, with work published as far afield as Rolling Stone, Nature, Smithsonian Magazine and the New York Times.
Her hyper-involved work on mountaintop removal led her in 2009 to undertake a one-year "embed," to document up close Climate Ground Zero's civil disobedience campaign against the practice.
She is the first to admit she became obsessed with the issue and has tried to get as close as she can to the issues and intense emotions roiling coal field communities.
"It is such an emotional and devastating issue and I really did try to feel as much as possible all the things community members would tell me."