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The Inside Appalachia Folkways Project expands the reporting of the Inside Appalachia team to include more stories from West Virginia as well as expand coverage in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Ohio.

Artists You've Heard Before, What Social Distancing Looks Like For Them

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Caitlin Tan
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Robert Villamagna, a professional artist in Wheeling, W.Va., holds a baby doll from a flea market. He uses flea market finds to create art - something he is relying on heavily to stay hopeful during this time of social distancing.

For the past two years, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia team has been working on a folkways project that focuses on artisans and craftsmen within Appalachia.

For many of these people, their art or craft is their primary income, and a lot of them depend on social events, like concerts, farmers markets and craft fairs. In this new world of coronavirus and social distancing, that is proving difficult.

So we circled back with some of the artists, craftsmen and local business owners our team has interviewed over the past couple years and a few new voices as well, to see how they are doing. 

Many are coping by continuing to make their art, and some are even finding inventive ways to continue making an income. A few examples include curbside pickup kombucha and a "pay what you can" roadside garden stand that includes aloe vera plants - a key ingredient in homemade hand sanitizer. 

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Credit Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Eddie Austin at his wood shop in Hamlin, W.Va in 2019. He hand makes furniture for his business EA Woodworks.

As the way we live our lives continues to change in the coming days and months, we plan to stay in touch with these artists, as well as others who are affected. Reach out to Insideappalachia@wvpublic.org if you would like to share your story.

Artists, craftsmen and local business owners featured include, Clara Lehmann, co-owner of the Hütte in Helvetia, WV; Kara Vaneck, herbalist and owner of Smoke Camp Crafts in Weston, WV; Ginger Danz, professional artist in Fayetteville, WV; Eddie Austin, furniture builder in Hamlin, WV; Brannon Ritterbush, owner of Wild Art & Wonderful Things in Fayetteville, WV; Kelsi Boyd, owner of Silver Market Co. in Point Pleasant, WV; Shane McManus, member and cofounder of Greensboro Art Cooperative in Greensboro, PA; and Robert Villamagna, professional artist in Wheeling, WV. Click the links to read and listen to the original stories on these artists.

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Credit Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Shane McManus at the Art Cooperative in Greensboro, PA in 2019. The cooperative makes everything from pottery to refinished bicycles to music.

This story is part of the Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporting Project. Subscribe to the podcast to hear more stories of Appalachian folklife, arts, and culture.  


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