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CU Student Photos 'Urban' Side of W.Va.

Jared Kline

When pictures of West Virginia land in the national spotlight, it’s often the rural poverty stricken hollows and hills. Concord University art student Sterling Snyder wanted to capture a different, and often overlooked urban places in the state.

Large black and white photographs hang in the Arthur Butcher Gallery Concord University. In the far right corner there’s a towering picture of a worn staircase behind a building: a sign of years of use. The photos depict what’s left of the urban architecture in parts of West Virginia. Snyder tries to capture the metropolitan scene in a culture better known for its rural traits.  

Credit Jareed Kline

“It’s a different look at an urban scene in Appalachian culture,” Snyder said, “but also when you’re a photographer and you’re taking photographs, you’re that ‘eye’ that everyone always talks about.”

That ‘eye’ that Snyder refers to is a person who notices the detail that others leave behind. He hopes to bring attention to what he calls a dilapidated urban scene in the Mountain State. His photos are in black and white to put more emphasis on their composition and show close-ups of aging buildings from across the state.

The show is called “Controlled Chaos”. Concord University student Sterling Snyder says he feels the name captures his day-to-day routine.

“It’s sort of a metaphor for just a lot of things that I do,” Snyder said. “I have a very precise plan in my head but what actually happens you can’t control and ‘Controlled Chaos’ is kind of what everything sort of is for me like in my life almost.”

Credit Jared Kline

Snyder takes this ‘inner commotion’ to create his artwork that is well recognized by the Concord community.

Lynsi Boyd graduated from Concord with a bachelor’s degree in studio art a few years ago. She thought the pieces were striking.

“I really enjoyed the up close pieces because you get to see aspects of the urban structure that we live in that you normally wouldn’t see,” Boyd said. “I really enjoyed the textures and the careful detail that he took in looking at those carefully.

Credit Jared Kline

Growing up in Southern West Virginia, Boyd is familiar with the declining city scene that Snyder displays.

“These I think show that the urban areas are old and haven’t been in use for a while and they’re actually run down,” Boyd said, “but there’s some beauty in that age.

Dosha Nikolaeva is an international student from Russia. She says she was surprised to learn the photos were taken in West Virginia.

Credit Jared Kline

“I think they are more modern maybe,” Nikolaeva said. “I don’t know, like maybe from a city or something but he shows it from a different angle, so it looks very very good.”

But this confusion is exactly what Snyder wants us to feel while looking at the hidden and dilapidated gems of the Mountain State, still open for interpretation.

Friday is the last day Snyder’s show, “Controlled Chaos” will be on display in the Alexander Fine Arts Center on the Concord University campus. Find out more about his work on his website.

Credit Jared Kline
Sterling Snyder chats with his professor Mr. Kevin Bennington during his senior art show reception.

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