The Mesabi Range in Minnesota is a geographical area that spans 110 miles from the towns of Grand Rapids to Babbitt. Subterrainly noted by a large Precambrian iron-rich deposit, the range produces 75 percent of the iron ore in the United States. There are currently six mines producing ore, and many that have been exhausted or abandoned along the expanse. The ore is removed through open-pit mining—leaving vast and deep scars on the landscape. But the unusable soil, known as overburden, which is removed to get to the iron-rich deposits below, is piled into small mountains along the range—leaving the geographic area in a constant state of topographic flux.
Tumulus is a visual investigation of this human-altered landscape, but it is also a document of the cultural and societal complexities of the Mesabi Range. It is an area that is largely dependent on the economical might of the mining industry, yet subject to market booms and busts. As the country has moved further away from a manufacturing-based economy, the Mesabi Range has seen its own economic hardships—although foreign demands for iron have helped to ease those.