Across Appalachia

Art Exhibit Raises Awareness of New River

Date: June 14, 2017

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By Adrienne Fouts

An art exhibit at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone, N.C., aims to raise awareness about protecting the New River. Entitled “Collective Vigilance: Speaking for the New River,” the exhibit is also intended to get people thinking about their connection to the watershed.

A graduate class taught by Tom Hansell in the Appalachian Studies program at Appalachian State University partnered with the New River Conservancy, an environmental group, and other organizations last fall for the project.

The comprehensive exhibit includes a display of trash that the class helped collect from the New River, as well as images by local photographers, a mural of native plants, a digital timeline of the New River Conservancy’s history, hand-drawn maps and other components.

“We want people to understand that we’re all connected to the watershed and our actions, the materials we consume, all will find a way into the watershed,” says Hansell. “It’s also amazing looking at all of the trash and thinking about how much stuff we use that we actually don’t need.”

“Collective Vigilance” is on display until July 29. The exhibit is also designed to travel. The mural in particular is meant to be taken to schools in the area after the exhibition ends.

“I’d like to work with educational institutions, art galleries or places along the river who are interested in doing something similar,” says Hansell. “They can sponsor their own river cleanups and get people to be part of more advocacy efforts to improve water quality.”

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