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Looking at Appalachia


In conjunction with  Looking at Appalachia: Selected Images from 2014-2016, on display at the WVU Downtown Campus Library, the Arts in the Libraries Program is developing a localized exhibit, Looking at Morgantown, to be on view April-August, 2018 in Room 1020 in the Downtown Campus Library.

Looking at Appalachia is a juried project by West Virginia-based photographer Roger May. Writes May of the project: "In an attempt to explore the diversity of Appalachia and establish a visual counter point, this project looks at Appalachia fifty years after the declaration of the War on Poverty. Drawing from a diverse population of photographers within the region, this new crowdsourced image archive will serve as a reference that is defined by its people as opposed to political legislation."

Like most areas of West Virginia, Morgantown carries its own distinct character, pulling from international residents at WVU as well as longtime West Virginians, being both a small metropolis in close proximity to international cities, with rural, small-town features. As such this exhibit is calling for photography specific to Monongalia County; what people and places represent Morgantown to you?

Guidelines for submissions follow the general Looking at Appalachia guidelines but will be submit to the WVU Art in the Libraries Committee who will jury the submissions for exhibition. Winners will be notified in March 2018 via email. Libraries will print and install the photographs in the exhibition space, room 1020, on the first floor of the Downtown Campus Library.


Submissions are not limited by style or subject matter (portraits, landscapes, etc.), however:

  • All work submitted must be the copyright of the photographer.
  • Photographer may reside anywhere, but photographs must be made in Monongalia County.
  • Submissions are open through midnight, January 31, 2018.
  • You may submit via email or via Instagram.

Instagram Submissions:

  • Follow @wvulibraries on Instagram
  • Tag your photo #wvulibraries and #LookingatMorgantown
  • Include the general location in the text
  • Winners will be notified in March 2018 via Instagram Direct Message and to obtain further information for exhibition. Photos will be printed at Instagram file size unless higher resolution images provided by the photographer.

Email Submissions:

  • Include the date (month, day, and year), city, county, and state.
  • Submissions must be in .JPG format, sized at 1500 pixels on the longest side, 72ppi.
  • File names must include your last name and the city, county, and state where the photograph was made (example: maychattaroymingowv2.jpg).
  • Do not watermark or add text to your submissions.
  • Please include a telephone number with your submission(s).
  • Images will be printed around 16"x20" depending on format of photograph.

By participating, you agree:

  • To release Instagram from responsibility for the contest with the understanding that it is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.
  • To give the WVU Libraries permission to use your photos in exhibition, promotional, scholarly or other materials.

Email submissions and questions to WVU Libraries' Exhibits Coordinator, Sally Deskins,


The Morgantown Arts Walk is making it cool to hang out at the library on a Friday night. The Downtown Campus Library will be an event stop Friday, September 22, from 4-6 p.m.

"We are excited to be part the Morgantown Arts Walk for the first time this year. We hope the community will enjoy a conversation with Looking at Appalachia Director Roger May and interacting with exhibit which provides an intimate look into everyday life in Appalachia," said Karen Diaz, interim dean of Libraries.

Looking at Appalachia, a juried collection of images by amateur and professional photographers currently on display at the Downtown Campus Library, is moving to its second phase with 20 new images.

Looking at Appalachia Director Roger May began his crowd-sourced project in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of Johnson's Poverty Tour, which was heavily covered by the media and generated several images that came to define the region. May, a West Virginia-native, chose open submissions to professional and amateur photographers to chronicle life in the 13-state region in hopes of broadening the contemporary definitions of the region and its people.

The exhibit opened in June of 2016 with 73 selections lining the walls of the DCL's 1st floor. Some of the images provoked controversy, which May said was intended to start a conversation. This new exhibit Looking at Appalachia: Selected Images from 2014-16, features 20 new images from 2015-16 alongside 20 images from the original exhibition of photographs from 2014, presenting the project in a new, more concentrated light that has never been done.

"The Looking at Appalachia project is a fascinating constellation of images and artists connected by geography and a shared impulse to record the unique qualities of the region," said Michael Sherwin, CCA professor of photography and Looking at Appalachia contributor.

May will be present to chat with the crowd during the event. Also on hand will be Raymond Thompson, a photographer on the curatorial committee of Looking at Appalachia, and whose The Divide exhibit is on display in the Downtown Campus Library Atrium. Refreshments will be generously provided by Tin 202.

Later in the semester, as part of WVU's Diversity Week, the Libraries will host a community wide discussion on Appalachian representation in photography on October 13 at 10 a.m. in the Milano Reading Room. Also in the works for next spring is a Looking at Morgantown exhibit.

The exhibits and events are coordinated by the Art in the Libraries Committee. Looking at Appalachia: Curated Images from 2014-16, will be on display through June 2018. For more information on the Art in the Libraries program visit


Looking at Appalachia seeks to take a new look at Appalachia 50 plus years after Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. Images in the press from Johnson's Poverty Tour of Appalachia came to define the region for many years.  Looking at Appalachia is intended to create a visual counterpoint to these iconic images of poverty while celebrating the diversity of the region. The national press has written positively about the project, including articles in the New York Times, The Atlantic, and National Geographic.

This exhibit will run from May 23, 2016 through June 30, 2018

A panel of WVU experts from journalism to public health discussed  Looking at Appalachia and how images in the media have affected the region on February 7, 2017.

Watch a recording of the event here: