The Boxcar Stage - 2016

The Boxcar Stage is a performance space and moving mural that explores Appalachian Ohio’s transforming identity.  

Using railroad and mining maps recovered from a shuttered coal company, and plant specimens collected from the abandoned railroad beds and industrial sites of Nelsonville, Ohio, I worked to intertwine two different stories of a landscape. 

Using transparency and layering, I merged the aesthetic of blueprint maps, topographical outlines, botanical cyanotypes and railroad reporting marks. Plants growing in former sites of extractive industry offer an alternate narrative of Appalachian identity just as the derelict boxcar, transformed into a mural and performance space, articulates a kind of hope for new ways of processing and transforming a proud but troubled industrial heritage. 

Thanks to artist Nate Schirmer who assisted in painting this piece.


I designed and executed this project for the Nelsonville Music Festival, where it remains in use each year as a free performance venue. 

In the off season, it lives at the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, whose generous donation of a 1954 Swift Refrigerator car made our work possible. 

Explore images with the #boxcarstage tag on Instagram.