The changing face of Appalachia is the subject of an upcoming photography exhibit at the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University.
“Seeing Rural Appalachia,” large-format photographs by Mike Smith, will run Sunday, Oct. 24, through Friday, Dec. 17. The public is invited to a free reception beginning at 2 p.m. Oct. 24.
Smith’s photographs expose the human impact on the landscape, from aged, weather-softened farm buildings that seem to be an organic part of the landscape to the jarring reality of big, bright, new gas stations. His photographs of rural Tennessee show the lush beauty of the land while they reveal the suburban encroachment that threatens much of rural Appalachia. This exhibit collects Smith’s work from the past five years.
“The natural mountain landscape immediately made a profound impression on me when I arrived in East Tennessee in 1981. So did the rural lifestyle of the population,” Smith said. “Weeks after I arrived, I began my attempt to define both with my camera. I continue that effort today.”
Smith is a professor of art at East Tennessee State University, a Guggenheim Fellow and a founding member of the Appalachian Photographers Project. His works have been acquired by major U.S. museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum. His monograph “You’re Not from Around Here: Photographs of East Tennessee” was published in 2004, and he’s exhibited work at the Whitney Museum and San Francisco MoMA.
The Fine Art Museum’s hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The museum also is open one hour before Fine and Performing Arts Center Galaxy of Stars performances and selected Saturday “Family Art Days.”