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Robert Dawson

Polluted New River, Calexico, California, from the California Toxics Project
1989
gelatin silver print
13 7/8 x 17 3/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Consolidated Natural Gas Company Foundation

Fluffy white shapes dot this stream and appear to mirror the clouds billowing above. Evidence of serious water pollution, however, dispels the notion that this is just pretty scenery. New River, which receives its pollutants from both Mexico and the U.S., has been called the filthiest stream in the nation. That beauty should surprise us is no surprise; that beauty should rebuke us is another story.