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The Artistic Richness of Appalachia Today Gets Spring Exhibition at Asheville Art Museum

  • ASHEVILLE, North Carolina
  • /
  • January 31, 2019

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Tom Shields (Asheville, NC), Bridge, 2017, cast iron, 48 inches x 72 x 20 inches (122 x 183 x 51 cm). Photography: Kohler Co.
Kelly Spell (Hixson, TN), Spotted Hawkfish, 2018, batting, fabric, thread, 43 x 20 1/4 inches (109.2 x 51.4 cm). Image courtesy of the artist.

The Asheville Art Museum (North Carolina) has announced the 50 artists whose work has been selected for the museum's inaugural contemporary exhibition, Appalachia Now! An Interdisciplinary Survey of Contemporary Art in Southern Appalachia, to be held in its expanded and renovated facility opening in the spring of 2019. Billed as a “contemporary story of Appalachia,” the exhibition is comprised of works in a variety of media including dance, film, new media, painting, poetry, and sculpture. Appalachia Now! will highlight the following artists, who are living and working in the region. 

Organized by guest curator Jason Andrew, a curator and juror of national renown, this exhibition explores the union of tradition and modern perspectives through contemporary artistic voices of this region. Appalachia Now! situates artists not only within a regional and national dialogue but also within the rich history of creativity and making historically associated with Appalachia. Whether works are personal or universal in theme, this cross-disciplinary exhibition invites visitors to participate in the individual experiences that make this part of the world unique. 

Meredith Elder (Demorest, GA), Zen & the Art of Stock Horse Maintenance, 2017, acrylic, found object, graphite, ink, oil, paper, plastic, and woodcut print, 24 x 18 inches (61 x 45.7 cm). Image courtesy of the artist.

Appalachia Now! builds upon the Museum’s mission of collecting and interpreting 20th- and 21st-century American art, including the Collection's strength in art of the Southeast. Inclusive and ambitious in scope, the exhibition offers a present-day survey of works by artists selected by the guest curator. Through a process conducted over two years, Jason Andrew reviewed recommendations from curators, directors, and gallerists in the region and conducted studio visits with over 55 artists, documenting many of his visits on the Museum's Instagram account. He next oversaw an open call that drew submissions from over 400 artists. Throughout the exhibition's development, over 700 artists were researched for consideration in the exhibition. 

The final list of 50 artists represents the diversity of creatives who currently live and work in towns and cities in Western North Carolina and its bordering areas, which include southern Virginia, eastern Tennessee, western South Carolina, and northern Georgia. While all of the artists call Southern Appalachia their home, many originate from other parts of the United States and the world. As the Museum prepares to reinstall its Collection of American art of national significance in its new and renovated building, Appalachia Now! will feature artists whose work is not yet represented in the Museum’s Collection. 

Jason Andrew shares about the exhibition"The diversity and magnitude of art-making in the region expands our understanding of the world today from the perspective of Southern Appalachia. Appalachia, while its roots are deep, has outlived its regionalism and is deserving of a new nuance of narrative."

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