The public is invited to two events during Oct. 25-26 that are part of a visit to the Art Museum of WVU by self-taught Appalachian artist Minnie Adkins and writer-musician Mike Norris, both of Eastern Kentucky.
Works by Adkins are currently on view as part of the exhibition “Independent Vision: Self-taught Artists of Appalachia,” in the museum’s McGee Gallery on the lower level. Norris and Adkins have also written several children’s books together and enjoy touring to read and share their art.
The first public event, to be held Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 6:30 p.m., is the screening of the documentary film “O Appalachia: Art and Lives of Appalachian Self-Taught Artists,” which was produced by the Art Museum in 2015 and aired on West Virginia Public Television in August.
Directed by Emmy Award-winning producer Jim Brown, the film features six self-taught Appalachian artists, who—along with several others—are part of the Art Museum’s current exhibition. The film gives viewers a rare glimpse of these exceptional artists and also offers insight into their relationship with collector Ramona Lampell, who championed their work and shared it with the public.
The film screening will last approximately 50 minutes and will be followed by a short panel discussion with Minnie Adkins, Art Museum Director Joyce Ice, Art Museum Curator Robert Bridges, and Associate Professor of English Rosemary Hathaway. They will discuss the challenges of making of the film, which blends footage shot more than 20 years ago with recent interviews and photography of the artists at work in their home studios.
The documentary was made possible by a Media Grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council, with additional funding by the Friends of the Art Museum of WVU, Helen Bing, and the Myers Foundations.
The second event, to be held Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 12:30 p.m., is one of the museum’s monthly “Lunchtime Looks” programs. During this event, Minnie Adkins and Mike Norris will talk about how they create their children’s books and Minnie will do some woodcarving demonstrations.
The public is invited to bring a brown bag lunch at noon and enjoy lunch at the Museum Education Center before the program. Those attending will also have the opportunity to ask questions and to view Minnie’s artworks in the museum exhibition. The program will end before 1 p.m., so that those who need to get back to their offices will have plenty of time.
Mike Norris is a folk musician who plays in a group called the Raggedy Robin String Band. He was director of communications Centre College in Kentucky when he met Minnie there in the 1990s. Minnie was drawn to a song his group played called “Bright Blue Rooster” and began whittling the rooster and other characters from the song.
She sent them to Mike and they soon began collaborating and later released the children’s books “Bright Blue Rooster: Down on the Farm,” “Sonny the Monkey” and “Mommy Goose: Rhymes from the Mountain” (University of Kentucky Press, 2016), which is an Appalachian version of Mother Goose.
All the books were written by Norris and illustrated by Adkins, with a combination of her drawings and photos of her carvings. Each of the books includes an original song by Mike Norris that compliments the text and is illustrated with photographs of carvings by Minnie. She created more than 100 carvings for the Mommy Goose book, which is getting great reviews and is in the running for the Caldecott Medal and the Newbery Medal.
Mike Norris has been writing songs for more than 40 years. His compositions have been recorded by country, folk and bluegrass musicians and he has recorded with the Raggedy Robin String Band and the Americana group Billyblues.
Minnie Adkins’ many honors include the Folk Art Society of America Distinguished Artist Award. Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the Huntington Museum of Art and the Kentucky Folk Art Center.
“Independent Vision: Self-Taught Artists from Appalachia,” will be on view at the Art Museum through December 15, 2016.
The events during Oct. 25-26 are free and open to the public. For more information, call 304-293-7790, or visit the Art Museum website at http://artmuseum.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, Art Museum of WVU
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