Open and free to the community, the art show will be on display in BC’s Art Gallery on the first floor of Lansdell Hall, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friends are invited to a closing reception, Saturday, April 14 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Originally exhibited at the Ellen Von Dehsen Elmes Gallery in the King Community Center on the campus of Southwest Virginia Community College, “Thinking Like a Mountain” is part of Bluefield College’s “Celebration of Appalachia,” a yearlong symposium of exhibits, lectures, concerts, discussions, movies, theatre, tours and other educational and entertaining activities designed to honor the history, culture, people and traditions of Appalachia.
The title of the art exhibit “Thinking Like a Mountain” has a unique origin, based on a short essay written by Aldo Leopold. In this essay, Leopold reflects on the symbiotic relationship between the wolf and its Rocky Mountain environment. He uses that intimate relationship as a measure of how, in comparison, modern-day, progressive society is generally disconnected with the natural world.
In “Thinking Like a Mountain,” regional artists consider the relationship between today’s society and our southern Appalachian Mountains. Through paintings, sculpture, poems and song lyrics, the artists wrestle with the balance between the human need to thrive economically and nature’s need for human stewardship and preservation of the mountain environment.
Featured in “Thinking Like a Mountain” is Suzanne Stryk, who has enjoyed critical acclaim both locally and nationally for her paintings that depict the intricacy and beauty of nature. She’s had solo exhibitions in locations throughout the country, and her paintings have hung in more than 60 group shows.
Poets participating in the exhibit include Dan Stryk and John Willis. Dan Stryk, Suzanne Stryk’s husband, has published a number of critically acclaimed collections of poems and prose parables, including “The Artist and the Crow” (Purdue UP) and “Solace of the Aging Mare” (The Mid-America Press). Willis, best known as a respected chiropractor in southwest Virginia, has applied his lifelong love of the written word to original poems created for this exhibit. His poetry also has been featured in several editions of southwest Virginia’s “Clinch Mountain Review.”
Other poets include southwest Virginia writers Sandra Warden, who brings her keen love of nature to the exhibit through both written and photographed works, and a Harlan, Kentucky, native Dr. Thomas Keats McKnight, a well-known regional writer, musician and storyteller, who has taught English composition and Appalachian music, culture and folklore for nearly 40 years.
Jean Battlo, a native of McDowell County, West Virginia, whose parents migrated to the Appalachian coalfields from Italy, has produced an eclectic body of theatrical, literary, and historical work. An award-winning poet, she will be exhibiting two works of poetry written for “Thinking Like a Mountain.”
Acclaimed bluegrass musician Jeff Brown of Rosedale, Virginia, will add his songwriting skills to the exhibit. Brown has performed on the Grand Ole Opry in the historic Ryman Auditorium, on PBS’s “Austin City Limits,” on the Lincoln Theater stage in “Song of the Mountains,” and with Johnny Cash at the historic Carter Family Fold.
Greg Horn, a singer/songwriter from Richlands, Virginia, has performed his music at various festivals and musical events throughout the region. An assistant professor of English and editor of “The Clinch Mountain Review” at Southwest Virginia Community College, Horn will perform “Our Mountain Was Gone” for the Bluefield College exhibit.
Participating southwest Virginia photographers include emerging artist Mary Lane-Moore, who uses her lens to celebrate her intrigue with the beauty of nature, and longtime Jewell Ridge photographer Don Elmes, who currently displays and sells his photographs at the Appalachian Arts Center in Wardell, Virginia. Elmes will bring to this exhibit his “anguish over the ever-increasing, scarred terrain of our mountain vista.”
Other artists from southern Appalachia giving visual voice to “Thinking Like a Mountain” include Don Elmes’ wife, Ellen Elmes, and McDowell County native Jamie Powers. Widely known in the region for her community murals, watercolor paintings, and teaching of art, Elmes will exhibit a work that reflects on the endurance of mountains and a watercolor titled “It’s Our Choice” which challenges the viewer to “consider the consequences for the next generation of allowing economic development in the mountains today to overshadow responsible preservation of these ancient hills.” Coming from a proud tradition of underground coal miners, Powers will exhibit a work that expresses shock over the destruction of southern West Virginia mountain ridges.
Graphic design artist and photographer Richard Hypes, who grew up on a farm in Nicholas County, West Virginia, before becoming the director of marketing at Princeton Community Hospital, will exhibit his photographs on mountain stewardship and the environmental impact of surface mining.
Bluefield College’s “Celebration of Appalachia” symposium will run through April 2012. For more information, contact the BC Public Relations Office by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 276-326-4212.