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OU Southern to showcase Women of Appalachia fine art exhibition, and Women Speak event

November 9, 2018
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Courtesy of Women of Appalachia Project "A Rabbit and A Rose" by Teresa Sager.

IRONTON — Ohio University Southern will host the 10th Annual Women of Appalachia Project Fine Art Exhibition and Women Speak event. The evening will feature female artists living in or with strong ties to Appalachia from throughout West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

An opening reception will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Dingus Technology Center Art Gallery, 1804 Liberty Ave., Ironton.

Many of the artists will be in attendance for meet-and-greet opportunities and to discuss their work.

Following at 7 p.m., writers from the curated Women Speak portion of Women of Appalachia will share their poems, stories and songs in the Spriggs Auditorium, also located in the Dingus Technology Center.

According to the founder, Kari Gunter-Seymour, the mission of WOAP is to address discrimination of Appalachians, particularly women, by showcasing the way female artists respond to the Appalachian region as a source of inspiration; bringing together women from diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to embrace the stereotype - to show the whole woman; beyond the superficial factors that people use to judge her. WOAP will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.

“We are so pleased to have once again been selected for exhibition at Ohio University Southern, where the administration, faculty, staff and students have a passion for the perpetuation of Appalachian arts,” Gunter-Seymour said in a news release.

Supporting regional arts is important for Ohio Southern, said OUS Dean Nicole Pennington.

“Expression through the arts is important for everyone and we are thrilled to showcase such a high caliber of juried art and writing from some of Appalachia’s best women artists,” Pennington said in the release. “It is an honor to be part of the project’s 10th anniversary commemoration,” she said.

Jurors for the 2018-19 season were Roger May, photographer, writer and curator of Looking at Appalachia, a crowd-sourced visual representation of Appalachia; and Randi Ward, poet, translator, lyricist, photographer, and recipient of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Along with Ohio University Southern, the WOAP fine art exhibition will be hosted by the Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown, West Virginia; and Ohio University Multicultural Center Art Gallery in Athens, Ohio.

The “Women Speak,” event will feature spoken word artistspoets, storytellers and musicians from West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota and Tennessee who will perform their work.

When asked how living in Appalachia has influenced her life and therefore her art, West Virginia painter Cheryl Ryan Harshman said, “In my 20s, after college and grad school, I chose to spend my life in Appalachia, along the Ohio River, on the West Virginia side. I have lived deep in the country. I’ve put up hay and butchered with the old farmers on our ridge. The tragic beauty of this place I call home haunts my personal vision and must necessarily come through the paint I use to speak.”

Kentucky digital artists Ashley Parker Owens shares, “When I moved away from Kentucky to go to college, people made fun of me for being a hillbilly. I felt ashamed but didn’t understand why. Over time, as I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize that it is easy to bully those you think are less than you. I came back to Kentucky after getting an MFA in visual arts and raised a baby in the hills of Richmond. I feel sure of myself here, accepting myself as an Appalachian experimental artist.”

Pennsylvania-based fine art photographer Lisa Orr shares, “I am a native Appalachian with deep roots in West Virginia where generations of my pioneer ancestors settled and resettled in the 19th and 20th centuries. I seek to reveal Appalachian culture through images of the region’s often overlooked sacred landscapes, especially those that have been damaged or are in peril.”

Doors open at 5:45 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information go to www.womenofappalachia.com or visit WOAP on Facebook at facebook.com/WomenofAppalachiaProject. For questions, email womenofappalachia@gmail.com.

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