China Express

SFAI is honored to join the Lannan Foundation in bringing artist Carlan Tapp’s China Express to multiple venues throughout the country. China Express utilizes documentary photography as a means to explore the environmental impacts of coal, one of the most pressing issues of our time. Tapp’s stark and straightforward photographs often depict changes in the natural environment that result from social causes. In China Express, Tapp provides us with the visual story of individuals, land, waterways, and entire communities impacted by the 1,200-mile train route stretching from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to British Columbia, Canada – a route upon which multiple trains pulling more than 100 cars transport coal daily to be shipped to China.

As part of SFAI’s education program, Tapp’s 40 black and white photographs from China Express provide a powerful springboard for standards-based curriculum in Visual Arts, Humanities, and Science. Through observation, description, reflection, and further analysis, students are able to interact with the China Express narrative, both artistically and as a means to better understand and grapple with critical environmental and social issues. SFAI has provided a range of questions and resources that allow students to engage in both brief and expansive investigations into the use of documentary photography in environmental education, and into the use of coal as a debatable energy source. Click here to view the China Express curricular guide.