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Chroma Iron Dragon (work of art)

Información sobre la obra de arte

John Sabraw (American, born 1968)
60 × 60 × 1.5 inches (152.4 × 152.4 × 3.8 centimeters)


Courtesy of the artist


Key Ideas

  • Artist John Sabraw used Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) pigments to create this painting.
  • AMD pigments are eco-conscious paints that are made from the toxic waste in polluted water.
  • The process of creating AMD pigments involves collecting and treating polluted stream water. Iron oxide is removed from the water and used to create pigments. The clean water is returned to the stream.
  • Sabraw is a professor at Ohio University. He and one of his colleagues, Guy Riefler, developed AMD pigments. 
  • The materials Sabraw uses to create his paintings raise awareness of water pollution and other environmental issues.
  • Sabraw collaborates with the company True Pigments. They take water pollution and turn it into artist pigments.

Más información

Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) pigments are made from water polluted by abandoned coal mines. When groundwater seeps into the mines, it becomes highly acidic. This acidic water then dissolves minerals that contain iron. The iron in the water creates dead zones in streams and wetlands. These are areas where no plants or animals can live. To create AMD pigments scientists collect and treat the polluted water. This process reduces the water’s acidity level. The iron that is extracted from the polluted water is used to create iron oxide pigments (like red ochre) that can be used as paint. The clean water is returned to the stream. 

John Sabraw is an artist and a professor at Ohio University. He is also an activist and environmentalist. He creates paintings, drawings, and art installations that use sustainable materials. His artwork raises awareness about acid mine drainage and environmental issues. Sabraw worked with environmental engineer Guy Riefler to develop AMD pigments. These paints get their color from the iron that is removed from polluted waterways. 

I turn pollution into paint.

John Sabraw

Sabraw partners with a company in Ohio called True Pigments. They transform pollution into colorful paints that can be used to create art. Artists are using these AMD-pigmented paints to add an environmentally conscious aspect to their work. AMD pigments are made from iron oxide that is chemically identical to red ochre. Red ochre is considered to be the world’s first red pigment. It is the earliest-known pigment used by our ancestors. For more than a million years, red ochre has been an important part of human communication and artistic expression. The only thing that has changed is how the red pigment is obtained.

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  • A mixed media painting by John Sabraw called Chroma Iron Dragon

    Chroma Iron Dragon

    A mixed-media painting in shades of dark red. There is a flat red circle in the center that is surrounded by textured, mosaic-like concentric circles that are made up of red-painted coal pieces. The coals that make up the innermost circle are the smallest. The coals that make up each outer circle are progressively larger. The largest pieces of coal make up the outermost circle. The wood panel background is painted with heavy red and gold brushstrokes.