WVU Libraries is developing an interdisciplinary exhibit for 2019-20 themed around Appalachian Futures. Content is sought from scholars, artists and practitioners from a range of fields to integrate into a curated exhibition that will be interpreted, designed, and installed next spring/summer, and potentially travel throughout the state. Dates and guidelines listed below.
This collaborative, multidisciplinary exhibit and programming will address the dominant contemporary narratives about Appalachia in a new way— how the people of Appalachia have worked and will work to rewrite their own narrative and transcend limiting definitions of what it means to be Appalachian. The creatively designed, accessible and interactive exhibit will synthesize humanities research, art, and civic action inviting viewers to explore the often overlooked communities of Indigenous Appalachia, "Affrilachian" (African American in Appalachia), and queer Appalachia. It will also ask viewers to examine Appalachian tradition and culture; the intersections between extraction industries, new technology, and science; literacies and education in Appalachia; as well as speculative futures for the region.
The exhibit will use scholarship and creations to tell stories about the broader ideas and relationships amongst the various Appalachian identities, past present and into the future.
We are seeking artists, scholars, community groups and practitioners whose work fits into one or more of the exhibit's four themes:
Appalachians can imagine new futures by looking to Indigenous Americans. Despite a violent history of displacement, Indigenous Americans in Appalachia have formed critical pathways to retelling their futures by infusing their art with narratives that resist colonial narratives. This part of the exhibit will showcase Indigenous Americans' creative action in imagining new and attainable futures for themselves and for Appalachia.
This section also distinguishes the importance of African Americans who live here and create a unique culture. We look to artists such as Marie Cochran, the main curator of The Affrilachian Artist Project. This Project's focus on community engagement will be a model for sharing the many facets of Affrilachian experiences with our public audiences.
Additionally, our exhibit will engage several key community partners is Appalachia to find unique voices of LGBTQ+ Appalachia. LGBTQ+ Appalachians contribute significantly to the region's creative media landscape and have fostered communities with unique traditions and creative prowess. Organizations such as Queer Appalachia have formed programs to fund creative projects by and for queer and/or trans black, indigenous, and people of color.
Historically, Appalachia has had a tenuous relationship with resource extraction industries whose profits often haven't returned to communities and helped move those communities into viable futures. Class-based stereotypes represent Appalachians as uninterested in education, and there is a popular assumption that Appalachia is not developing innovative energy sources, technology, and sustainable industry despite its rich natural resources. Our exhibit features programs and industries that are changing all three of these narratives and creating future Appalachian communities with strong education systems, good physical and mental health, and opportunities to create innovative technologies. The exhibit will also explore how the region's strong sense of culture, its linguistic distinctiveness, its literacy, and its relationship to the natural world all offer ways to imagine its future.
One thread of Appalachian stereotype is it inexorable pastness: so thoroughly steeped in its past that it can't possibly imagine a future; these stereotypes fail to mention the crucial role that cultural traditions have had in galvanizing forward-thinking cultural institutions. This section will highlight cultural work in the area that remain an important component of future strength, such as: the West Virginia Humanities Council, The Tamarack, Pearl S. Buck Birthplace, Mine Wars Museum and more, connecting to our traditional past.
Our final theme projects that cultural past into speculative futures. Here we will consider science fiction, fantasy, and magic realism together to rethink the ways Appalachians preserve cultural traditions, and imagine them in wildly creative ways. More particularly, this exhibit will complicate the dominant, conventional ideas of Appalachian tradition by bringing together the immersive gaming world with folktales.
The exhibition will engage with questions such as what would a future Appalachian utopia look and feel like? Recognizing the history of the conflicting notion of modernist futures of early 20th century, how can we strive for a culture of inclusiveness and equity, without cultural appropriation?
Appalachian Futures will be designed and installed initially in the WVU Downtown Campus Library first floor main area, up through the main spiral staircase, with extensions in the Atrium and potentially satellite pieces in Evansdale and/or Health Sciences Libraries. A plan for preparing the exhibition to travel regionally will be developed, as well.
The panels will include reproduced artworks and creative thematic design with the content accepted to visualize ideas and encourage visitors to pause and contemplate the messages of each section. Photographs, drawings, and quotes about each focus, as well as philosophical questions, and minimal technological resources when available, will give visitors a fuller understanding of the large concept, underscoring the commonalities and cultural distinctions within the vastness of Appalachian Futures. There will also be an ongoing, changing interactive response element of the installation developed with the Philosophy scholar that will help track engagement.
We will coordinate presentations, panels, tours or talks around the exhibit, depending on the work included. Moreover, the finished work may be included in an exhibition pamphlet and published online through the Research Repository @ WVU, West Virginia University's digital repository. The Research Repository provides a permanent online home for exhibition materials, and allows them to be viewed worldwide and cited as valuable contributions to the scholarly record.
To cross promote departments, programs, institutes, projects, etc.: If your department, program or organization would be interested in co-sponsoring the exhibit and programming, a modest amount would help us do this; and your logo and name would be included on the main exhibition concept piece and display, and all marketing materials.
More information (.pdf) about partnering with the Libraries for this exhibit is available.
To submit your content for consideration, please submit the application form linked below.
Name the file with your last name_theme.
Send to: Sally Deskins, WVU Libraries Exhibits & Programs Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions, email or call Sally, 304.293.0369.
Submission deadline: January 31, 2019.
Art in the Libraries and Exhibit Committee Review: February 1-28, 2019
Results via email by: March 1, 2019
Confirmation for participation: March 15, 2019
Exhibition development, interpretation, design, edits: March 15-May 30, 2019
Exhibition installation: June 1-July 15, 2019
Exhibition: August 1, 2019-June 1, 2020 (Traveling exhibits, Programming TBD)
If you are accepted, by submitting your entry you give WVU Libraries the right to publish your images for publicity purposes for the exhibition (All credits will be included). We may ask select artists to provide higher resolution jpegs suitable for publishing.
You (the author(s) or copyright owner(s)) also grant to the West Virginia University Board of Governors on behalf of the West Virginia University Libraries the non-exclusive right to reproduce, translate (as defined below), and/or distribute your submission (including the abstract and metadata) worldwide in any medium or format and royalty-free, including, but not limited to, publication over the internet. If you accept this license, you (or the copyright owner) still retain the copyright to your work.
You agree that the WVU Libraries may translate the submission to any medium or format, known now or in the future, for the purpose of preservation. WVU Libraries may also cut your submission for exhibition integration; contributors will be contacted for cohesion if this is the case.
You agree that the WVU Libraries may keep more than one copy of this submission for purposes of security, back-up, and preservation. You represent that the submission is your original work, and/or that you have the right to grant the rights contained in this license. You also represent that your submission does not, to the best of your knowledge, infringe upon anyone's copyright and agree to indemnify and hold WVU Libraries harmless from any claims of copyright infringement based on your submissions.
If the submission contains material for which you do not hold copyright, you represent that you have obtained the unrestricted permission of the copyright owner to grant the WVU Libraries the rights required by this license, and that such third-party owned material is clearly identified and acknowledged within the text or content of the submission.
You agree that the WVU Libraries may make such changes to the item's 'metadata (i.e. descriptive information) as deemed necessary by WVU Libraries staff to make the item more accessible.Appalachian Futures Application Form (.docx)