Localization pop-up show highlights local art scene


Douglas Harding

Local rapper Shelem performs during the Localization pop-up show at the West Edge Factory Oct. 18.

The Localization pop-up show Friday at the West Edge Factory showcased the works of dozens of local creators for participants and attendees, inspiring connections between Huntington community members and artists from across the state.

Localization is a movement initiated in 2018 by two Marshall University students with aims of connecting the Huntington community with local creators and artists of all kinds.

“Localization is an incredible community experience that brings together the most special talent in the area,” said Dylan Smith, a video production student at Marshall and vendor at the event. “It’s truly the greatest holiday of the year.”

Smith, who premiered at the event his film called “Camp Arrowhead” that he and his friends have been working on for months, said the pop-up show was a valuable experience that helped introduce him to various local artists, actors and other potential collaborators.

“Events and people like these keep me going and motivate me to be better and to create more,” Smith said.

Friday’s pop-up show featured musical performances by Huntington psych-rock band ScroungeHound, local up-and-coming rapper Shelem and Morgantown indie-alternative band Natural Rat. In addition to performances and art and fashion vendors, the event included a micro-cinema showcasing and premiering films created by and starring local community members. Localization contributors also created a magazine for the movement, which highlights Huntington culture through its various stories and was available at Friday’s pop-up.

Localization co-founder and Marshall photography student Lilly Dyer described the movement and its events as “a space where the underdogs (have) a chance for their creative voices to be heard.”

The event Friday was the third organized by Localization since its origin at the beginning of last year. Since last January, the movement and its events have grown immensely in size and popularity, Dyer said.

“We started off in an insanely cramped coffee shop, and now we filled a warehouse,” she said. 

Heath Holley, Localization co-founder and Marshall visual art and graphic design student, said the movement’s growth since its establishment has been exceptional, and he does not expect the momentum to die soon.

“Every event so far has changed venues just out of sheer necessity. They keep doubling in size,” Holley said. “I’m not sure how we’d ever top the size of the venue we had (Friday), but I get the feeling we might have to at some point.”

Holley said the most crucial aspect of the Localization movement and events is their ability to place local creators and artists on a pedestal, inspiring connections with and support from interested community members.

“With these shows, we’re cultivating a stronger and larger art community in Huntington and the surrounding areas that can hopefully one day be recognized as such,” Holley said.

Shelem, a local rapper and Marshall alum who performed at Friday’s pop-up, said Localization is crucial for Huntington’s art community and serves as a source of inspiration for local creators. 

“I love the vibe (of Localization),” Shelem said. “It’s filled with people who are genuinely excited about what the area’s artistic community has to offer. When you walk in, you can almost feel the surge of creative energy around you.”

Douglas Harding can be contacted at [email protected].