March 2014




“Photographer Builder Levy’s Appalachia USA (David R. Godine) does for today’s coal miners what Walker Evans did for sharecroppers and tenant farmers in the Dust Bowl.” –Vanity Fair

This book is an intense artistic exploration of a significant yet little understood and often overlooked region of the United States.

Despite the promise of alternative energy, coal still fuels most of our power plants and steel mills. The story of its extraction, and of the people who live, work and endure in West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania, has been a source of fascination bordering on obsession for the photographer Builder Levy. For four decades, he has been witness to a dangerous industry where workers operate heavy machinery in close quarters underground, mining coal in ever-increasing tonnage. Over the last two decades, at surface mines, Levy has seen powerful explosives tear apart mountain summits, followed by giant draglines that scoop out the exposed veins of coal in massive, and massively destructive, quantities. He has also been witness to strikes and picket lines, desperation and rage, hope and dignity, and the inevitable natural and man-made disasters that are part of the territory.

Builder Levy is a part of a grand humanist continuum that includes Lewis Hine, Paul Strand, and Walker Evans, to name a few. Intertwining the traditions of fine art, social documentary, and street photography, Appalachia USA is an aesthetically and socially significant book that celebrates the human spirit; it is this human spirit that shines through the coal dust – in the blackened faces of miners, in mothers struggling to protect their children, and in ravaged but resilient communities. Levy’s photographs and accompanying extended captions capture the tension, the dignity, and the enduring humanity of this troubled corner of America.

Publication date: 31 January 2014, Boston
$40.00 hardcover
128 pages
ISBN 978 1 56792 508
69 spot-varnished tritone photographs printed on the top quality paper
Phoenix Motion Xantur, 9 9/16 by 12 inch pages
Hard back cloth covered

In addition, it is carried by the Museum of Modern Art Store, and Barnes and Noble. The publisher David R. Godine, also sells it directly: tel: 800-344-4771 or .

All of Levy’s books can be purchaced from the online bookstore of PHOTO-EYE:


For press etc. inquiries, contact Sue Ramin, 617-451-9600 ex 29, or

For information about the signed and numbered limited edition book in a handmade slipcase with an original print photograph, contact Builder Levy: , or 917-885-7840


Builder Levy was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1942 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He received a BA in art from Brooklyn College (1964), where he studied painting with Ad Reinhardt, photography with Walter Rosenblum, and art history with Milton Brown. He studied the Photo League and the photography program of the Farm Security Administration in conjunction with his master’s degree in art education at New York University (1966). Close friendships with Paul Strand and Helen Levitt (during the 1970s) provided greater insight into his role and possibilities as an artist.

Levy has received numerous awards including a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Monographs of his work are Images of Appalachian Coalfields, with a foreword by Cornell Capa; Builder Levy Photographer, with an introduction by Naomi Rosenblum; and Appalachia USA with a foreword by novelist Denise Giardina. Levy’s work is included in more than thirty other books.

His work has appeared in more than two hundred exhibitions, including more than fifty one-person shows. His work was included in the exhibition Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968 at the High Museum of Art in 2008. The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City featured his photographs in Mongolia: Beyond Chinggis Khan, in 2006-07. He was included in Coal + Ice in Beijing, in 2011. An on-going project, Developing Nations, was shown at the Flomenhaft Gallery in New York in 2012, and reviewed in ArtNews. Currently, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, in Sarasota, Florida, has included Levy in a new exhibition In the Streets, Photographs of Urban Spaces opening March 21, 2014. As a part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography fall 2014, the Arnika Dawkins Gallery will exhibit a large Builder Levy retrospective.

Builder Levy’s photographs are in more than fifty public collections around the world.

Among Levy’s major projects are New York City, where he was a teacher of at-risk adolescents for thirty-five years; Appalachia; civil rights and peace demonstrations in the 1960s; the new millennium; and Mongolia and other developing nations.