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GC Alums, others curate exhibition

Carnegie Center announces new exhibit, “Project Reclamation” about mountaintop removal

Source: Mary Margaret Sparks
Above is pictured alumnus Joel Darland’s piece titled “Comfort O Comfort My People.”

The Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Ind. is pleased to present the exhibition “Project Reclamation,” a visual art exhibition to help raise awareness and educate the community about mountaintop removal and its effects on the environment, society, politics and more.  This exhibit features artwork by Alex Adams, Rachel Brewer, Denise Burge, Aron Conaway, Joel Darland, Wayne Ferguson, Albertus Gorman, Jo Ann Grimes, Joshua Howard, Michael Koerner, McKinley Moore, Mary Margaret Sparks and Julie Yoder. “Project Reclamation” is a grassroots effort started by Louisville artist Mary Margaret Sparks in partnership with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. The exhibit will be on display Nov. 2, 2012 through Jan. 12, 2013.

Artwork for “Project Reclamation” features a variety of mediums, including photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, video and illustration.  Each piece of artwork will be an interpretation of mountaintop removal by the individual artist.  About her piece “Appalachian Patchwork,” printmaker Julie Yoder writes, “I incorporated quilt square patterns to reference the history and culture of Appalachia.  Appalachia has a long history of coal mining, and that history permeates the traditions and stories that are passed down through the families living in the region. I created a patchwork of mountains to demonstrate that the fates of the mountains and the people living in them are inextricably linked.” Embroidered quilt squares by artist Joel Darland, titled “Comfort O Comfort My People” and “Asleep Not Dead,” “use imagery associated with rural Appalachian and southern cemeteries and employ several craft traditions.” He continues, “These pieces speak to the disappearance of mountain culture in light of the disappearance of the mountains themselves. Often marginalized, the people of Kentucky’s Appalachian counties struggle to hold onto their heritage and culture.”

Source: Mary Margaret Sparks
The artworks in the exhibit, like the piece above by Joshua Howard, address the regional importance of coal.

About his piece “Mountaintop Mini-bar,” comprised of river-altered coal, glass, wood, plastic and aluminum, artist Albertus Gorman writes, “’Mountaintop Mini-bar’ was created from discarded materials collected at the Falls of the Ohio State Park… I have made my artistic practice and purpose to use the most base of materials I find in the park to continue a dialogue about sociological and environmental concerns… Over consuming and wasting resources is changing not only the very environment that sustains us, but also changing us as people.”  Jo Anne Grimes’ fiber pieces “Going Home” and “Last Man Out” represent “how coal has affected the social, health, economic and environmental issues of this area.  ‘Last Man Out’ represents a time period from 1920 until about 1960 when US Steel closed Portal 31.  The surrounding towns dried up and virtually nothing remained but boarded up buildings, even to this day.  As the miner leaves, you can imagine the insecurity and uncertainty he had to have and then upon ‘Going Home’ to his humble abode he had to be a pillar of strength as the innocent race to meet him.”

About “Project Reclamation,” exhibit co-curator Mary Margaret Sparks writes, “Mountaintop removal (MTR) is a divisive issue that cuts across many facets of lives across the region.  It employs fathers while poisoning communities.  It powers much of the region and simultaneously defaces it.  The coal industry’s deep pockets keep politicians and regulations at bay, while endangering the lives of thousands.  By no means is the issue black-and-white… My primary goal with this exhibition is to serve as an educational tool and to open people’s minds to just how complex and far-reaching MTR is.  Southern Indiana and Metro Louisville, though not directly affected by MTR, still feel trickle-down effects—as does the rest of the country.  Over 90 percent of both Kentucky and Indiana’s energy comes from coal.”  She continues, “When I first began developing the idea for the exhibition, I knew I wanted an environment that fostered creative freedom and education.  I recruited artists based on their passion for the issue and their advocacy.  I worked to make sure that those without personal ties to mountaintop removal were educated and informed about the issue… For this exhibition, each artist was allowed complete freedom to create.  All of the work represents those individual artists’ interpretations and opinions about mountaintop removal and surrounding issues including politics and the environment.”

An opening reception for “Project Reclamation” was held on Friday, Nov. 2 from 6-8 p.m.  While exploring the galleries visitors enjoyed refreshments, live jazz by the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Quartet and the chance to meet some of the artists included in the exhibit.   The exhibit and opening reception are sponsored by the Carnegie Center, Inc.

There will be multiple educational programs in conjunction with the exhibit, including participation by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Muhammad Ali Center.  These artist talks, educational programs and more will help shed more light on the issue of Mountaintop Removal and show how visual art can be used to create social change.  Additional information on these programs will be available online  at the website   www.carnegiecenter.org.  For more information about “Project Reclamation,” please visit www.reclamationky.com.

The Carnegie Center for Art and History, a department of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, is a contemporary art gallery and history museum that offers a full schedule of changing exhibitions and other educational programs.  The Carnegie Center also features three permanent exhibits: “Grandpa Makes A Scene: The Yenawine Dioramas”; “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad” and “Remembered: the Life of Lucy Higgs Nichols.”  The Carnegie Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am-5:30 pm, and is located at 201 East Spring Street in historic downtown New Albany, Indiana.  The Carnegie Center for Art and History is fully accessible.  Admission is free.  For more information on exhibits, events and classes, visit www.carnegiecenter.org.  The Carnegie Center is proud to present the New Albany Public Art Project: Bicentennial Series in partnership with the New Albany Urban Enterprise Association; visit www.napublicart.org for more information.