Weekend conference to focus on Appalachian region
HUNTINGTON — On an excitement scale of 1 to 10, Linda Spatig is clocking in at a solid 11.
And who can blame her because Spatig, the Marshall professor chairing the 37th annual Appalachian Studies Association Conference, is getting set to share, learn and fellowship with more than 800 of her closest Appalachian-loving-and-learning friends and colleagues.
Coming from all corners of the country, the ASA Conference, which has a theme of “New Appalachia: Known Realities and Imagined Possibilities,” will roll Friday through Sunday, March 28-30 on Marshall University’s Huntington campus.
“On a scale of 1 to 10 we are at 11,” Spatig said. “We have been working on it for ages. In fact, we just had our 16th planning committee meeting last week and I said, ‘no more meetings.’ Now we have to celebrate the event .” That celebration spills over into the city as this year’s conference has a full slate of events that are free and open to the public to check out.
While conference s past have been open solely to ASA members , this year, the ASA, which is actually based on campus at Marshall, received a West Virginia Humanities Council grant to provide more access to the public.
Marshall students can attend any of the more than 400 programs, lectures and presentations taking place on campus for free while the general public can attend special open events that showcase everything from storytelling and music to visual art and women’s history.
For folks wanting last-minute to check out a full pass of the weekend events (including the Appalachian Film Festival and Saturday night concer t with Ron Sowell of Mountain Stage), passes will be $155 at the Memorial Student Center, and $105 for students who are non-Marsha l l .
Here’ s a look at some of the free events you can check out this weekend presented in the order they happen.
The art of storytelling
Four-time West Virginia state Liar’s Champion Adam Booth, and Scott Clanahan who set off a firestorm of publicity from his memoir, “Crapalachia,” tag team a talk called “Me? An Appalachian Stereotype? I Thought My Stories Worked Against That” that takes place from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Friday, March 28 in Corbly Hall.
Explore the art of storytelling, a timehonored Appalachian oral tradition and a somewhat marginalized arts category with Booth, a nationally-traveling storyteller who teaches at Shepherd University, and McClanahan, who received considerable national attention for his “memoir of place” titled “Crapalachia: A Biography of Place.”
Art walk into the ocean
Check out a free opening reception at Gallery 842 from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 28 for a new exhibit, “Every Ocean,” featuring a wide range of works by Marshall University art professor Ian Hagarty, whose works have been shown around the world.
The solo exhibit, up through April 26, features a variety of media including painting, drawing, photography and digital media, a site-specific installation, and sound from Hagarty who was born in Jersey and who earned two of his three degrees from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
During the weekend, Gallery 842 will also be open regular hours of noon to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, as well as 4 to 6 Saturday during a special event called “Stroll, Sip and Shop” that takes place around downtown.
Silas in the house
Celebrated and multi-talented Appalachian author Silas House has been a prolific Appalachian powerhouse since publishing his first novel, “Clay’s Quilt,” in 2001. Since then he has authored four more novels, three plays, co-authored the social protest book, “Something’s Rising,” edited the posthumous manuscript of acclaimed writer James Still, “Chinaberry” (2011) and just recently finished his novel “Little Fire,” which will be published in 2014.
House, who serves as the NEH Chair of Appalachian Literature at Berea College and on the fiction faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing program will give the keynote address “Our Secret Places in the Waiting World: Becoming a New Appalachia” at 8 p.m. Friday at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.
Discover more about house at www. si l a shouse . or g .
The ‘herstory’ of Appalachian Women
At 10:15 a.m. Saturday at Corbly Hall 105, come and be inspired by a long line of amazing, strong and movementprovoking women of Appalachia from Chero kee leader Nancy Ward (17391824) to Mountaintop Removal opponent Judy Bonds (1952-2011).
A founding member of Kentucky’s legendary Reel World String Band, Sue Massek presents the session called, “Appalachian Women, A Herstory of Oppression and Resistance,” sponsored by MU Women’s Center.
Memorial Student Center unplugged
Local singer/songwriter and promoter Joe Troubetaris has been hosting house shows called “The Porch Unplugged,” at his Huntington home for a couple years.
Troubataris and friends bring that fresh-brewed living room/coffee house, live music vibe to the Memorial Student Center starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and continuing throughout the day.
Bring an acoustic instrument and join in the jam or just stop in and listen .
Stroll, sip and shop
Taking place from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday throughout downtown. Check out the Shops at Heritage Station and other downtown businesses opened especially for the conference.
In addition to the shops, check out an art exhibit curated by Marshall graduate, artist and owner of Ackenpucky Creative, Seth Cyfers, who designed interior space s such as SIP Wine Bar and Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar.
That show will be located on the second floor of the historic Morris Building (the former Pub and Oven and soon to be Huntington brewpub, The Peddlar), located at 9th Street and 4th Avenue.
That show will feature works by Cyfers, Peter Massing, Jason Kiley and Hagarty as well in the unfinished second floor of The Peddlar, which will be the brew house.
Folks might also be able to peer into the nearly-finished downstairs pub and restaurant, owned by Drew Hetzer (Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar), and designed by Cyfers. That should be open for business in a couple of weeks, Cyfers said.
Although he had hoped to have The Peddlar completely open in time for the Conference, Cyfers, who has shown work around the country, said he was glad to be a part of the gathering.
“Ian Hagarty has a show across the street and so he will show a couple pieces here to bridge the two events,” Cyfers said. “I have a couple of pieces in that haven’t been exhibited... Drew and I are both committed to making Huntington a more interesting place and are thankful for the opportunity to help them out and make sure people have a good experience.”
Co-imagining new possibilities
The plenary, or open session, on scholarship will feature two Marshall University graduate students, Eric Lassiter and Beth Campbell. Lassiter is the author of the “Chicago Guide to Collaborative Inquiry” and founding editor of the journal “Collaborative Anthropologies.” Folklorist, writer, and educator Beth Campbell’s research takes up issues of collaboration, community, and civic engagement. She is exploring the constitutive nature of collaborative writing, and how it works — through shared agency, shared commitment, and shared humanity — to make and remake those who engage it.
Lassiter and Campbell co-authored, “The Other Side of Middletown,” winner of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology’s 2005 Margaret Mead Award.
Burritos, Brews and Bull by Booth
While Saturday night’s main event — a Saturday night concer t called “New Appalachian Voices: An Evening with NPR and Mountain Stage’s Ron Sowell” and lots of special guests (Johnny Staats, Butch Osborne, the Appalachian Children’s Choir, and award-winning duo The Sea The Sea) is open only to conference attendees, there is an after par t y.
Adam Booth, the four-time champion of the West Virginia Liar’s contest and also an accomplished musician, will be hosting that Saturday night after-party open mic at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, 1555 3rd Ave., Huntington.
Starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, the event will feature a wide array of poetry, music and readings.
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