The art of Kirsten Sadler, an artist born and raised in Appalachia, is currently being featured at Bluefield University. Sadler’s show entitled “Thaddeus Dixon Preservation Project” will be on display on the first floor of Lansdell Hall now through November 15.
Sadler’s “Thaddeus Dixon Preservation Project” contains Dixon’s personal collection of objects that provide the viewers with a glimpse into his findings. Dixon was born in West Virginia’s Greenbrier Valley in 1871. He moved his family to Hominy Falls, West Virginia after selling his family’s land to a railroad company. There he spent his time exploring nature and society. After exploring Dixon’s findings, Sadler noticed the two shared similar interests. Both are fascinated by the social makeup of their communities.
“The body of work on display reveals our shared inquiries. Taken as a whole, I am approaching this work as a conversation. This conversation reveals a critical eye and provides commentary about Appalachia’s social and economic struggles.”
Since Sadler grew up in Appalachia, she knows about the specific issues the region has faced surrounding coal. Sadler likes to filter her artwork “through the eyes of a period Appalachian explorer and artist who is discovering the consequences of the coal industry for the first time.”
Considering coal is the social fabric of the region, she chooses to incorporate it within her work.
“I position traditional still life objects beside pieces of coal, which elevates the coal itself to a precious status,” Sadler said. “This idea is further enhanced with mounted coal on plaques, which call to mind prized objects on display like a trophy,” she added.
Sadler has studied her passion for art at several institutions in the two Virginias. In 2013, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Marshall University (MU) in Huntington, West Virginia.
During her time as a student at MU, Sadler showcased her work in five different exhibitions. In 2013, she presented her solo exhibition entitled “In Your Own Skin” and was recognized with the Outstanding Student in the college of Arts and Media Award. A year prior to her solo exhibition, she was named MU’s Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient. That award allowed her to travel to Florence, Italy to study art.
From 2016-2017, Sadler served as an assistant professor of art history at MU’s School of Art and Design. Sadler’s course load included Western Art Survey I and II, Introduction to Design and Theory (Art Majors), and Introduction to Visual Culture (Non-art Majors).
Sadler graduated with her master’s degree in art history with an emphasis in feminist theory from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia in 2016. This year she completed her Master of Fine Arts in painting and drawing at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
Sadler’s exhibitions have been featured throughout our region and her work is now part of the permanent collection at Radford University. The “Thaddeus Dixon Preservation Project” show at Bluefield University is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.