Appalachia Photovoice exhibition and guest speakers – May 1

Two guest speakers visit campus in May to discuss Appalachian media stereotypes in conjunction with an Elon Honors Fellow thesis photo exhibition that features intimate photostories of 10 community members in Appalachia.

Who has the power to tell the stories of communities, and what are the responsibilities of the storyteller? How have regions such as Appalachia been misrepresented by the circulation of Appalachian stereotypes in visual culture?

These questions are addressed in an exhibition featuring images from Photovoice, a concept of visual storytelling that combines photography and social action through the perspectives of local community members. 

The exhibition is Thursday, May 1, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the McBride Gathering Space in Numen Lumen and includes intimate, authentic photostories of 10 community members in Appalachia. Two guest speakers from the Photovoice project in Eastern Kentucky will reflect on ways Appalachian stereotypes have affected their individual and collective identities.

Nathan Hall is a ninth-generation Eastern Kentuckian, former coal miner, and lifelong lover of mountains who is directing his energy toward building new opportunities in the coalfields of Appalachia through environmental restoration, renewable energy and innovative agroforestry. This fall, he will attend the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for a Master of Environmental Management degree.

Thomas Anderson lives on Elkhorn Creek in Shelby Gap, Ky., where he spends his time close to nature, fashioning a self-sufficient life for himself and the people he loves.

This exhibition is a part of Elon University senior Gloria So’s Honors Fellows thesis, “From ‘Pockets of Poverty’ to Potential Prosperity in Appalachia: Connecting Mass Media Narratives of Poverty Stereotypes to Authentic Appalachia through Photovoice.”

So’s research observes how local community members and media visualize and frame issues of poverty in Appalachia compared to national media, using media analyses from Johnson’s War on Poverty in 1964 and the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty in 2014 and findings from the Photovoice project, to examine whether Appalachian people still feel marginalized by media narratives.