Ryan Thompson

[Conscience letter]

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Bad Luck, Hot Rocks: Toward A Geologic Conscience, 2014

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The Petrified Forest National Park in Northeast Arizona protects one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world. Despite stern warnings, visitors to the park remove several tons of petrified wood from the park each year, often returning these rocks to the park by mail (sometimes years later), accompanied by a “conscience letter.” These letters often included stories of misfortune attributed directly to their theft: car troubles, cats with cancer, deaths of family members, etc. Some writers hope that by returning these stolen rocks, good fortune will return to their lives, while others simply apologize or ask forgiveness. “They are beautiful,” reads one letter, “but I can’t enjoy them. They weigh like a ton of bricks on my conscience. Sorry....” Bad Luck, Hot Rocks brings together a series of original photographs of these returned “bad luck rocks,” along with facsimiles of conscience letters from the National Park’s archives.

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