Rachel Boillot, Matt Eich, Maury Gortemiller, Doug Van Gundy, Shayla Lawson, Maddie McGarvey, Joy Priest, Meg Roussos, Dennis Savage, Steph Strasburg, Joshua Yospyn
Curated by Stef Rieder
Appalachia is a long, diagonal, cultural region of the United States, including 13 states, approximately 25 million people, and stretches from southern New York to northern Alabama and Georgia. The story of Appalachia and its inhabitants has been told for decades and often by writers and photographers aiming to display the region’s poverty and struggle of the working class. Powerful media outlets have been known for relying on stereotypes of the region to justify political situations and push narratives to fit economical contexts. This is not to say that these situations and hardships do not exist within this region, or in other places throughout the world, rather that there has been a huge neglect to cover the diversity and complex perspectives of the people living there.
This group exhibition shows the work of photographers, writers, and poets born or based in Appalachia, and aims to open up room for conversation between countries and cultures, to shed light on the region and its artists, and to escape the overused narrative of a place constantly changing.
It does not aim to defend any political stance or declare these stances non-existent, but rather attempts to transform the individual, national, and international imagination of the region.
Opening Reception: Saturday, Sep 7, 7 pm,
with a reading (in English) by Appalachian poet Shayla Lawson at 9 pm.
Shayla Lawson will be reading a few poems from her latest book “I Think I’m Ready to see Frank Ocean”. Each poem of I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean riffs on a Frank Ocean song, paying homage to the man but also investigating oceans, The Ocean, and the similarity between heartbreak and break beats by blending Frank Ocean’s musical catalog with personal narrative and social critique. I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean builds upon historicized representations of Ocean’s career in ekphrasis, carefully examining the intent of each composition as a metaphoric parallel to Black American legibility.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shayla Lawson is the author of three books of poetry – A Speed Education in Human Being, the chapbook PANTONE and I Think I’m Ready to see Frank Ocean – and the forthcoming essay collection THIS IS MAJOR (Harper Perennial, 2020). Her work has appeared in print & online at Tin House, GRAMMA, ESPN, Salon, The Offing, Guernica, Colorado Review, Barrelhouse, & MiPOesias. She curates The Tenderness Project with Ross Gay and writes poems with Chet’la Sebree (pronounced Shayla, no relation). A MacDowell and Yaddo Artist Colony Fellow, Shayla Lawson currently serves as Writer-in-Residence and Chair of Creative Writing at Amherst College. She is also supported by the Cini Foundation of Venice, Italy, the Allen Fellowship at the New York Public Library and her Havanese – Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.
She is a member of The Affrilachian Poets.