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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Appalachian Identity Explored in Art Exhibit

Graci+Davis+with+her+work+titled+%E2%80%9CPreserve+Your+History.%E2%80%9D
Abigail Cutlip
Graci Davis with her work titled “Preserve Your History.”

The fifth annual art exhibition at Drinko Library had their opening ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 5 p.m. The theme centered around the com-
plexity of identity in Appalachia.

Starting in 2019, Drinko Library has been the center of art exhibitions featuring complex themes that build on one another each year. Students and community members are encouraged to share their art in a variety of mediums and facets of Appalachian life.

Monica Brooks, dean of University Libraries, said it’s gratifying that people in the community are contributing as a means of expression.

“You can also see that there are different ethnicities and races depicted in some of the imagery because it speaks volumes to the type of environment that we live in in Appalachia,” Brooks said.

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Brooks said people have had an affinity for the culture of Appalachia for many years, and the history here is a combination of many different identities coming to the region.

“We are from all over and all different, yet we have this common bond,” Brooks said.

Kacy Lovelace, assistant professor and research and student success li-
brarian, became involved with Drinko Library’s exhibition on the ground level when she was asked to create a library research guide in its first year.

“We try to build on previous years’ themes,” Lovelace said. “Last year was ‘reframing Appalachia;’ the year before was ‘creation and confidendment’ after the pandemic; we really try and focus on themes that can be interpreted in many different ways.”

Lovelace said the many stereotypes and conceptions of Appalachia are the reason for this year’s theme, as well as if growing up in this region had an impact on one’s self identity.

“Appalachian themes mean different things to different people,” Lovelace said. “We really wanted to hear from Appalachians themselves and what it means to them and what it means to be from Appalachia.”

Lovelace said being a part of these exhibits and seeing the different forms of identity found within the art created by the community in this area helps individuals see Appalachian identity as a positive, instead of a derogatory term.

“It’s really helped me face or come to terms with my own identity as an Appalachian,” Lovelace said.

Artist Graci Davis said her inspiration for her pieces came from a lifetime of growing up in the region.

“I’ve grown up my whole life in the Appalachian area, and there’s so much history and culture that I find interesting,” Davis said.

Davis said her pieces are themed for the older history of this region that is being lost to time without preservation.

“There’s so much old history that’s falling apart in this area,” Davis said. “So, I wanted to emphasize it’s important to still remember and preserve the history.”

She also said the mountainous landscapes and what they have to offer inspired her second piece in the exhibit.

“My other poster was ‘Go explore.’ It was emphasizing there’s so many outdoor activities to participate in this area,” Davis said. “I think everyone should go explore and enjoy it for what it is.”

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