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.
Old Lecturer (Calcite with Hematite)
Sibyl (Fluorite)
Mary (Amythest)
Lucillia (Uraninite)
Dora & Egypt (Quartz and Smoky Quartz)
Florrie (Calcite)
Violet (Fluorite)
Jessie (Gypsum, var. Selenite)
Lilly (Quartz)
May (Kyanite and Quartz)
Kathleen (Calcite with Chalcopyrite on Galena)
Isabel (Pyrite)