In anticipation of the opening special exhibition Appalachia Now! An Interdisciplinary Survey of Contemporary Art in Southern Appalachia, we are thrilled to share this glimpse into the correlating catalogue. We will be sharing a free online version of the entire catalogue, but for now, here’s an excerpt and a link to purchase the real deal. Nothing like a physical book in your hands… especially featuring amazing artists such as these! Buy your copy today.
Excerpt from foreword by Pamela L. Myers, Executive Director, Asheville Art Museum:
In 2015, the Museum was finalizing plans and eagerly anticipating the start of the preservation, renovation, and construction project that would create the new Asheville Art Museum. That project, long in the making, would anchor our community and provide an open and accessible, world-class facility in which current and future generations would learn, engage, and be inspired. In keeping with the Museum’s mission, vision, and history, we also envisioned the opportunity to create a special opening exhibition that would be in dialogue with the Collection and present a timely, in-depth focus on the richness of the art of our time and place.
Fortuitously, that same year, we worked with Jason Andrew, manager and curator of the estate of American painter Jack Tworkov (1900–1982), to curate an exhibition titled Jack Tworkov: Beyond Black Mountain, Selected Works from 1952–1982. Jason’s broad depth of knowledge and experience in American art of this century, incisive curatorial skills, commitment to contemporary art in all media and to the makers of that art, and boundless energy were clearly apparent. The Museum is extraordinarily fortunate that he agreed to apply his talents and interdisciplinary curatorial approach to the complex process of creating a survey of contemporary art that explores the richness of the current artistic contributions of the Southern Appalachian region, grand in
scale and inclusive in its selection. His dedication has made Appalachia Now! An Interdisciplinary Survey of Contemporary Art in Southern Appalachia possible.
In rebuilding our home—located on the most prominent corner of downtown—we reflected on what it means to be in this place, a site nestled in the mountains of Appalachia of significance to native and immigrant communities of all backgrounds. Looking at ourselves and Asheville as a nucleus, we attempted to define our region. From maps to state lines, federal funding (particularly through the Appalachia Regional Commission) to political affiliations, and identity politics to bioregionalism, we found that people who call themselves “Appalachian” encompass the plurality of definitions and diversity of the area. A hybrid approach of extensive research, recommendations, studio visits, and an open call, made free and available to the public, led to the final selection of 50 artists from areas in states bordering Western North Carolina.
The arts and artists are central to the identity and economy of our region both historically and today. From an outsider’s perspective, Jason made connections between the art scenes of New York and America and contemporary work by Southeastern Creatives. From the perspective of the Museum, Jason, and regional artists, we begin to form a snapshot of Southern Appalachia through the lens of Western North Carolina and the surrounding area.
Excerpt from Appalachia Now! essay by Jason Andrew, Guest Curator:
This is a contemporary story of Southern Appalachia, presenting a new look at the historic and social dimensions of art of the region highlighted by the exchange and fluidity of process, material, migration, personal histories, the environment, and more… I am excited to share the many stylistic approaches and concerns of artists in this exhibition—their ages varied, their origins diverse. In an effort to provide structure to this survey, I have organized their work along four thematic lines that emerged through conversation among these artists as well as connections between them. Beyond these thematic lines, I encourage the viewer to look at the work of these 50 Creatives in a notional and conceptual way. Beauty and abstraction are at the core of this exhibition; some works are more explicit; some find Appalachian roots in handmade traditions. Others branch beyond tradition, intensified by the act of collaboration. I welcome the viewer to discover, just as I have, the tangible reflections of our time in the work of these artists; and, through this process, come to know Appalachia now.
The Museum would like to thank the John & Robyn Horn Foundation, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the National Endowment for the Arts, Parsec Financial, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the Maurer Family Foundation, The Chaddick Foundation, the Judy Appleton Memorial Fund, Mountain Level sponsor Hollis Taggart Galleries, and Blue Ridge Printing.