Bad Luck, Hot Rocks

Ryan Thompson

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Bad Luck, Hot Rocks: Conscience Letters and Photographs from the Petrified Forest by Ryan Thompson, edited in collaboration with Phil Orr.
The Petrified Forest National Park in Northeast Arizona protects one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world. Despite stern warnings, visitors remove several tons of petrified wood from the park each year, often returning these rocks by mail (sometimes years later), accompanied by a “conscience letter.” These letters often include 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 documents this ongoing phenomenon, combining a series of original photographs of these otherworldly “bad luck rocks” with dozens of facsimiles of intimate, oddly entertaining letters from the Park’s archives.
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Published by the Ice Plant and distributed by DAP (Fall 2014)
Edited by Ryan Thompson & Phil Orr, 2014
ISBN 978-0-989785914 
Dimensions: 7.5 x 10.5", 144 pages
Materials: Paperback book, 140 color photographs

Ryan Thompson
(Oak Park)

Ryan Thompson is and artist and educator from Chicago. His ongoing 'Department of Natural History’ projects engage a series of complex and often strange relationships produced when human and non-human forces collide in the Anthropocene. Recent projects have been featured in Cabinet Magazine, Making the Geologic Now (Punctum Books), Hyperallergic, New Scientist, and The New Yorker Elements blog. His work has been exhibited at places such as: EYEBEAM (New York), Lothringer_13 (Munich), Can Felipa Civic Center (Barcelona), Evanston Art Center (Chicago), and Mila Kunstgalerie (Berlin). His 2014 book Bad Luck, Hot Rocks was chosen by PhotoEye as one of the best photo books of 2014.