“Optimism in Appalachia” Opens in Drinko

Joseph DiCristofaro, Student Reporter

A new art exhibit on campus offers students, faculty and community members a variety of visual representations of optimism. Titled “Optimism in Appalachia,” the exhibit opened in Drinko Library on Thursday, Feb. 2.

“The goal of this exhibit has been to showcase creative expressions of the positive Appalachian experience and encourage a sense of happiness and hope,” said Sabrina Thomas, head of research and instruction services for Marshall University Libraries.

The exhibition features many different pieces of art, ranging from quilts to works done in clay along with photography works.

Artists that submitted work for the exhibition ranged from students to experienced Appalachian artists.

“I was inspired by what I used to do in church,” said Sophie Leffew, a Marshall sophomore. “I used to do sign language in church and teach other people sign language.”

Leffew’s artwork is a set of ceramic hands positioned to spell out “join hands” in sign language, which also serves as the name for the piece. 

“The sign language ceramics seemed perfect for this exhibition because it’s a community and ties people together,” Leffew said.

Inspiration for the piece came not only from her childhood roots in using sign language but also from not seeing much representation of sign language in art, Leffew said. 

Photographs  also feature in the exhibition that capture the natural beauty of Appalachia. 

“If I could encourage students if they’re having a down day or feeling overwhelmed and looking for optimism come to the exhibit and walk around,” said Laura Moul, an experienced photographer and contributor to the exhibit..

Moul has had many of her works displayed at other exhibitions around West Virginia. For “Optimism in Appalachia,”

she contributed the photos titled “After the Rain,” “Lone Sunflower,” and others. 

The exhibition will be on display until May 5 and is free to the public.

“Walking through this show is inspiring, and we hope that faculty, students, staff and community members can take time to wander through the library to find a little hope, a little humor and a whole lot of optimism,” Thomas said.