A traveling art exhibit has found a temporary home at Concord University. The Athens Voices USA 2015 art gallery displays work from artist who live or work within thirty minutes of an Athens community across the country.
The Athens Voices USA gallery is a product of the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens Ohio. It was started seven years ago and has expanded into a traveling gallery. Jack Sheffler is the chair of the Division of Fine arts at Concord and an instructor of art. He is one of the nearly fifty artists chosen to have their work displayed.
"It’s a nice show to get people together from the area, and see their work, and sort of a meet and greet for art,” Sheffler said.
The show kicked off with a reception. Students and community members lined up outside the Art Gallery at Concord University. Art pieces hung on the wall… and sat atop podiums as the smell of barbecue filled the air from the catered meal. Forty-eight artists representing seven different towns named Athens from across the country presented their work. Jamie Biggs is an associate professor of art at Concord. He played an instrumental role in bringing the show to West Virginia.
West Virginia is often pegged as an inspirational area. Biggs feels that his work is truly shaped by his Appalachian heritage.
“I think between the landscape and the culture, all those influences have a way of seeping into the artwork, and being expressed through the objects that you make," Biggs said.
Mandy Lester of Pocahontas County is a recent Concord graduate. She moved to the mountain state in her early teen years and has lived here ever since. In 2013, she was chosen as one of the first Concord students to participate in the Athens Voices show. She too feels that her art is affected by West Virginia.
“I think location has a lot to do with who we are as people, and that is especially true for people who grow up in Appalachia. And even before I lived in North Carolina, both my parents are from McDowell County. So I’ve always had roots in this area, in Southern West Virginia," Lester said.
The Athens Voices gallery will eventually move to Athens, Alabama and continue to carry the influence of the artists throughout the country.
Concord University’s Arthur Butcher Art Gallery will be hosting “Athens Voices USA 2015” June 1 through July 22.