WORK CONTRIBUTED BY PEOPLE FROM APPALACHIA
The Appalachian region is home to a plethora of creatives ranging from photographers to musicians to painters. Here, we have collected a sampling of this work in an attempt to encompass the diversity of Appalachia and its artists. In addition to their work, we have also asked the artists questions about their inspiration, the land, and the people. As you browse this collection, let their wise words serve as a reminder that we, as creators, have a responsibility to capture the truth and beauty wherever we are.
ELAINE SHELDON: I don’t think there is one version of “pride” in Appalachia. But I seek to show individuals that are moving forward, working toward something that could change the path of Appalachia. These are the best storytellers and exhibit a level of pride that I respect and admire. I believe these stories can help repair the hopelessness and lack of ownership people feel about their futures. I seek to find the dreamers because I myself still dream big for the region.
"I am inspired by the place I call home, and the mystery I sense as I wander the forests and fields of Appalachia. These things connect me with a distant past rooted in these ancient, weathered hills and the timeless cycle of life and death."
- Charlotte Wachtel
"I try to show ownership of identity, regional tendencies along with the vulnerabilities that connect us all as people and I do that by trying to surrender as much of my expectations as possible. My role, as I see it, is to take time to have the conversations with the people I photograph so that them and their experiences are accurately represented."
- Andrea Morales
AMANDA GREENE: To me what is beautiful is how people interact with the land or what they impose on it. I like to see hugs that have been added or placed or planted in an area that to me make it more interesting or weird or complex.
"I choose to document Appalachia in my music because it’s as much a part of me as breathing. I was inspired to write about the beauty of the land after driving on St. Rt. 52 coming out of Aberdeen, OH toward Ripley. My husband has family in Ohio and when we’d go to visit, I sometimes caught myself looking out the passenger window daydreaming."
- Becki Alfrey
"Appalachia is often portrayed in light of its deep traditions, which can be both accurate and misleading. Media focuses on old-timers, running their farm or plying their craft just the way it was done a hundred years ago. But they may ignore the wonderful ingenuity and balance that goes into creating new art in an old tradition – a trick that may actually be harder to execute than simply trying new things."
- Julianna Harris
JOHN EDWIN MAY: I love my Appalachian roots ... It is the place in the world where I am from. It is my home ... I want to depict my lifeworld to inform viewers of my photography and maybe challenge their beliefs. Sometimes in our fast-paced world, we miss things of beauty or importance. We rush through our day with blinders on, missing so many things ... I am often making photographs to examine a subject I find compelling.
MARCIA JONCZAC RITCHE: It is what I know; it is where I live and where I have created and raised my family. Appalachia is where I found my purpose to be creative and encourage and promote creativity in others.
PHIL MAYHEW: Grundy County is the poorest county in Tennessee, but it’s one of the richest in the terms of natural beauty. I love beautiful scenery, I love woods, I love mountains, and I’m inspired by a lot of the nature here.
Listen more than you speak.
Be intentional about being a good human being.