HUNTINGTON - Visual art seniors from Marshall University's School of Art and Design played a unique role in the 51st annual meeting of the Southern Anthropological Association this weekend at the Big Sandy Superstore Conference Center in Huntington.
Amid the lectures and workshops, a makeshift art gallery displayed the pieces from 10 visual arts students in order to show the correlation between anthropology and art.
"Anthropology is the study of the human condition and all things that relate to what it means to be human, and one of those things is art," said Brian Hoey, associate professor of anthropology at Marshall, conference chairman and proceedings editor for the meeting.
The exhibition featured a variety of work from crochet pelts and quilts to waist-high vases and handmade tables.
Senior photography major Lydia Lake chose to show a quilt displaying the faces of the 12 miners who lost their lives during the Sago Mine explosion 10 years ago.
"When I was growing up that event really stuck with me," Lake said. "Even though I didn't know any of the people that died, when I saw the news stories with the kids crying and others worrying, it really affected me."
As a native of West Virginia, Lake said she chose to create a quilt with the portraits because it was yet another connection with her Appalachian heritage.
"It is my hope that people will see the quilt and feel a connection with each other and with humanity," she said. "Art is a very human and interesting way to connect to life."
The theme of this year's conference is "Reinventing and Reinvesting in the Local for Our Common Good."
Hoey said he chose the theme because he wanted people to understand that, contrary to what people may think, anthropologists and social scientists do contribute practical applications to society that make life collectively better.
He also said he hopes people are able to see a different side to Marshall academics.
"Most people recognize that there is a university here and a lot of people in the area went to Marshall, but they don't always think about Marshall as something that contributes to the community in a direct way," Hoey said. "We want people to know that we are not just teachers, we engage in the community as well."
The conference will continue Saturday, April 9, with a walking panel through the Visual Arts Center from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The panel will focus on how the context and design of the VAC plays a role in supporting the community.
For a complete schedule of events, visit http://mds.marshall.edu/sas_conference/2016.