In John Ruskin’s The Ethics of the Dust, a Socratic-style dialog set in a girl’s boarding school, the “Old Lecturer” character (a thinly veiled stand-in for Ruskin) masks lessons in ethics and aesthetics with instruction on crystallography. Minerals in the text take on a will and personal agency, stopping just shy (most of the time) of being anthropomorphized. As the crystals of the text are transformed into moral and aesthetic agents in the text, in the photographs they invoke the characters of his students. Minerals, sourced from the Carleton Geology Collection, were photographed in period rooms at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the historic James J. Hill House and the Alexander Ramsey House, interiors that echo the space of the fictional instruction and further aestheticize the mineral specimens.

http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_05---jessie-calcite-with-hematite.jpg
Old Lecturer (Calcite with Hematite)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_lexthompson06.jpg
Sibyl (Fluorite)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_lexthompson10.jpg
Mary (Amythest)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_lucillia-quartz-sub.jpg
Lucillia (Uraninite)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_04---dora--egypt-quartz-and-smoky-quartz.jpg
Dora & Egypt (Quartz and Smoky Quartz)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_11---florrie-calcite.jpg
Florrie (Calcite)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_lexthompson04.jpg
Violet (Fluorite)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_lexthompson11.jpg
Jessie (Gypsum, var. Selenite)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_08---lily-quartz.jpg
Lilly (Quartz)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_lexthompson07.jpg
May (Kyanite and Quartz)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_06---kathleen-chalcopyrite-on-galena.jpg
Kathleen (Calcite with Chalcopyrite on Galena)
http://lexthompson.com/files/gimgs/31_03---isabel-pyrite.jpg
Isabel (Pyrite)