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"Fractured: North Dakota's Oil Boom" is Field Museum's latest exhibition
Prairie Potholes: Most of the oil in this region is obtained by fracking, a controversial drilling method that injects fluids into the ground to fracture oil shale. This technique permanently scars the prairielands and is disliked by many area natives, but at the same time it can offer financial benefits for struggling families. Photo: © Terry Evans.
CHICAGO, IL.- The Field Museum’s latest exhibition Fractured: North Dakota’s Oil Boom opened to the public on June 7, 2013 and takes visitors to the prairies of North Dakota to explore the impact of the current oil boom on the Williston Basin region. Nationally acclaimed photographer Terry Evans and award-winning journalist Elizabeth Farnsworth have been exploring and documenting the upheaval caused by the oil boom, which has implications far beyond North Dakota. The exhibition features their photographs and writings as well as high-resolution scans of prairie specimens from the Museum’s own collections.

New methods of horizontal drilling and fracking – injecting fluids deep into shale to unlock petroleum -- have made this boom happen. Rising oil production brings prosperity to some, but heartbreak to others whose lands are damaged. As thousands of people are pouring into the state because of an abundance of jobs, the prairie is increasingly fragmented by wells, pipelines, and other oil operations.

“To me, oil smells like roses and money,” states Fred Evans, who is grateful for the financial reward the oil under his pastures provides. On the other side, rancher Scott Davis, who tried, but failed, to stop drilling on his native prairie, says, “Our way of life as we’ve known it is over.”

This drilling process alters prairie habits and could bring catastrophic global warming ever closer, but it also offers temporary fiscal stability to the state and may help make the United States energy independent. Through the vivid photography of Terry Evans, visitors are presented the evidence just as she sees it. The exhibit ultimately asks, “What is your point of view?”

Portraits of workers, landscape photography, and first-person quotes from interviewees are featured in order to present a narrative of interlocking stories. Join these modern day explorers as they document the changes of a storied landscape, and decide for yourself what it means for the future.

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