Bad Luck, Hot Rocks
Ryan Thompson & Phil Orr
december 13, 2014


The Petrified Forest National Park in Northeast Arizona protects one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world. Despite stern warnings, visitors remove several tons of petrified wood from the park each year, often returning these rocks by mail (sometimes years later), accompanied by a "conscience letter." These letters often include stories of misfortune attributed directly to their theft: car troubles, cats with cancer, deaths of family members, etc. Some writers hope that by returning these stolen rocks, good fortune will return to their lives, while others simply apologize or ask forgiveness. "They are beautiful," reads one letter, "but I can't enjoy them. They weigh like a ton of bricks on my conscience. Sorry…” Bad Luck, Hot Rocks documents this ongoing phenomenon, combining a series of original photographs of these otherworldly "bad luck rocks" with dozens of facsimiles of intimate, oddly entertaining letters from the Park's archives.

Bad Luck, Hot Rocks: Conscience Letters and Photographs from the Petrified Forest, edited by Ryan Thompson and Phil Orr and recently published by The Ice Plant, brings together original photographs of returned "bad luck rocks" with never before published "conscience letters" from the National Park's archives.

Please join us Saturday December 13, 2014 for a very special presentation from Ryan Thompson and Phill Orr. They'll share images and stories from the Petrified Forest, followed by a Q & A and book signing (books will be for sale at the event).

Saturday, December 13, 2014, 3-5PM
Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center
65336 Winters Road, Joshua Tree, CA, 92252 

The Community Center is 4 miles east of Border Road on the left hand side. When driving north on Border, coming from downtown Joshua Tree, look for the Winters sign on the left and a large white Copper Mountain Mesa sign on the right.

RSVP - a suggested sliding scale admission of $5–15 can be made online or at the event (this helps offset the cost of the venue rental, light refreshments, and administrative expenses tied to this event - though no one will be turned away). 


Ryan Thompson lives and works in Chicago, IL where he is an artist and Associate Professor of Art & Design at Trinity Christian College. His current research examines various powers humans ascribe to the events and ephemera of the geologic. His work has recently been included in Cabinet Magazine, Fotograf Magazine, Making the Geologic Now (Punctum Books), Reframing Photorgraphy (Routledge), and Format P Magazine.

Phil Orr loves building things, particularly out of the discarded, salvaged, unwanted, or forgotten. Much of his work focuses on these objects and the complex relationships surrounding them. He makes a living as a carpenter in Urbana, IL where he lives with his growing family.