Rare Earth


Final Print


Set Type and Linoleum Cut Outs


First Printing in Progress

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Second Printing in Progress

Rae Harris, Scripps College '19

interviewed Maria Veronica San Martin 

Rare Earth addresses the exploitation enabled by the boom in technology companies. The focus is centered on human exploitation and the impact the exploitation has on the surrounding environment. In all of my computer science classes, we rarely speak of the impact and implications, intended or not, as we write our code. An example a program which creates an estimate of the likelihood of someone being a repeating offender, and this estimate may increase the person’s jail time. The program may be unbiased, but the skewed data can lead to many being falsely imprisoned for unwarranted durations.

Rare Earth focusses upon the mining industry for "rare earth" metals, which are 17 chemically similar elements crucial for the production of many everyday high-tech products that we take for granted. These goods include high-performance ceramics for computer chips, energy-efficient lamps, and computers. This piece was partially inspired by Ganzeer's The Solar Grid comic and the issues of resources that it brings up. 

The three countries featured are ones that I was interested in that are known for the exploitation for rare earth: China, the producer of over 90% of exported rare earth ("Green"); Dominican Republic of the Congo; and the Banka Island of Indonesia. Each country has one of its corruptions displayed on it while the large, centered text is one of the prevailing causes of the corruptions featured on the countries as well as all the other unlisted countries.

Originally, I wanted was a muddy green to be my color for the countries. However, I later decided a more dead-earth color would better convey to the viewer my message of corruption and the harm caused to the Earth and the surrounding people through the mining of rare earth. The brown-orange represents the damage from the toxic pollution and mud pits that occur thanks to the current regulations in the industry.

This color was partially inspired by Paranorma, 2008 by Julie Chen, a five spread book that warns society about ignoring social justice. In each of the spreads, the white continents are surrounded by a lively green that slowly becomes swallowed by a muted, pasty yellow-orange color as the reader opens each spread. This yellow-orange, in stark contrast to the lively green, makes the world look dead and toxic, which was a thought I wanted my piece to evoke.   



 “Green-Tech Metals – The Rare Earth Elements.” Straterra Natural Resources of New Zealand, Straterra, 2018.