“Indigenous Appalachia” is an exhibit designed to increase awareness of the contributions of Indigenous Appalachians to the region’s shared history and present while also recognizing continuing injustices faced by Indigenous people.
“The Humanities Center is excited and humbled to sponsor this event,” Humanities Center Director Renée Nicholson said. “It brings together the Art in the Libraries program, the Native American Studies program, and a tremendous group of artist and scholars, two of which will visit our campus for the opening.”
Remarks by Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz at the Neal Museum of the Health Sciences dedication on October 28.
President Biden recently issued an Executive Order on Promoting the Arts, the Humanities, and Museum and Library Services. In it he articulates this inspiring statement on these institutions: “The arts, the humanities, and museum and library services are essential to the well-being, health, vitality, and democracy of our Nation. They inspire us; provide livelihoods; sustain, anchor, and bring cohesion within diverse communities across our Nation; stimulate creativity and innovation; help us understand and communicate our values as a people; compel us to wrestle with our history and enable us to imagine our future; invigorate and strengthen our democracy; and point the way toward progress.”
I know that here at WVU, our library archivists are the collectors and stewards of the materials that mark our past. Without these touchstones of reality – of life as it truly was – we forget what was, and in fact are left to invent in our minds what never was. But it is through the interaction with these materials that we learn from and are inspired by them.
The reading features three women writers, all graduates of WVU.
“Hosting women writers from across two of our graduate programs is a particular pleasure,” Humanities Center Director Renée Nicholson said. “Celebrating talent that comes from our university’s programs can serve as an additional way to inspire future writers currently studying at WVU.”
“Most Americans do not know about Indigenous culture, from history to today, but they are a large part of America’s fabric. Invisibility is a modern form of bias,” WVU Libraries Exhibits Coordinator Sally Brown said. “With this exhibit, we hope to both acknowledge the contradictions in the Indigenous histories of our areas and in our collections, and highlight Indigenous stories, perspectives and successes, all curated in collaboration with Indigenous advisement.”
Dr. Jessie Wilkerson, an associate professor in WVU’s Department of History, and graduate student Emily Walter will discuss the oral history project and what they have learned talking to women miners from the region.
The Women Miners Oral History Project aims to collect and preserve the life histories of women in the Appalachian region who entered the mines as protected workers in the late 1970s after decades of exclusion.
The WVU Humanities Center is pleased to present “An Evening with Matthew Salesses” on Thursday, November 3, at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Salesses will read from his work and discuss contemporary Asian American literature, his innovative approaches to writing workshops and other topics. This reading and discussion is a Campus Read tie-in event.
“We are excited to continue the conversation about Asian American writing with this event,” WVU Humanities Center Director Renée Nicholson said. “Our Campus Read, “Interior Chinatown,” brought up some important issues around the Asian American experience. By bringing in Matthew Salesses, we not only further that discussion, but we also have the opportunity to see how writing spaces can be re-imagined to reduce bias.”
As part of its mission, the Art in the Libraries Committee wants to highlight the art and scholarship of WVU faculty, staff and graduate students. The Committee invites current WVU faculty/staff and graduate students to submit ideas for consideration for an exhibit to visually showcase their scholarship in new and experimental ways.
These can present a visual evolution of their work, visualize their research and influences, or answer a research question. Faculty/staff and graduate student proposals should be based on their academic or creative research and lend themselves to visual interpretation with Library consultation.
“The goals of these awards are to provide a multidisciplinary platform for deeper learning, foster intellectual discourse and discussion and demonstrate the breadth of WVU’s creative and innovative activity,” Libraries Exhibit Coordinator Sally Brown said.
You voted, and the two winning sticker designs from the WVU Art in the Libraries contest are available at the Downtown, Evansdale and Health Sciences libraries’ access services desks.
The call now is for photographs of your laptop sticker art. We love roaming the Library spaces and seeing all of the individualized, unique stickers that adorn your laptops, and we’d like to make it into an exhibition, online and in print.
All we need is your name, contact information, and a jpg (you can be in the photo or just the laptop) with an optional short 1-3 sentences about how your stickers reflect you/your identity/passions, etc. The deadline is Oct. 31. Get your free WVU Libraries sticker at any of the campus Libraries. Any questions or to submit via email: contact Sally Brown, email@example.com. Submission does not guarantee display. Those selected for display will be contacted in November.
The museum was conceptualized by the late Dr. William A. Neal, pediatric cardiologist, author of “Quiet Advocate: Edward J. Van Liere’s Influence on Medical Education in West Virginia” and distinguished WVU School of Medicine alumnus.
“The Neal Museum is a wonderful place to explore the history of health sciences in West Virginia and at WVU,” Lori Hostuttler, interim director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center, said. “There’s so much history included there, and it is just the beginning of the story. We’re excited for the future of the Neal Museum and the opportunity to share more about West Virginia’s history.”
Dr. Reed was born in Lowell, Ohio on September 18, 1887. After graduating from Marietta College, Reed went on to receive his Ph.D. in English at Ohio State University in 1916. Until 1920, he served as the head of the English department at the University of Maryland. Eventually, Dr. Reed made his way to West Virginia University where he would go on to devote his life’s work. In 1939, Dr. Reed founded the WVU School of Journalism. In April of 1973, Dr. Perley Isaac Reed passed away, sadly before the college was recognized as the West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism in 1977.
On July 1, 2014, the WVU Board of Governors made the decision to change the name of the school to “Reed College of Media.” They hoped the name change would “reflect the current and future direction of our college as we prepare students for careers in modern media communications.”
Throughout his life, Reed enjoyed funneling his creative energies into painting and writing poems. Reed painted “Romance in Old Paris” in 1957 on canvas board with oil paints, as he did with his other work. I chose to temporarily display this painting in our library because of Reed’s unique style of painting, in which he applies small strokes which blend very beautifully. I would consider myself a romantic, so when I first saw Reed’s depiction of the two lovers, I couldn’t help but fall in love as well. Some of Reed’s paintingsare currently located at the West Virginia & Regional History Center. Linked below is the collection titled “Perley Reed, Author, Poetry and Artwork” where more details concerning Reed’s other paintings and works can be found.
As of September 2022, Reed’s painting “Romance in Old Paris” can be appreciated by visiting the manuscripts room of the History Center, where it has been selected and displayed alongside other beautiful pieces of art.
The West Virginia University Humanities Center will host “From WV to NY: Hip Hop Geography,” a panel discussion around hip-hop, Black culture and place, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair’s Blue Ballroom.
Amy M. Alvarez, an assistant professor of English, will moderate the discussion between West Virginia natives Steven Dunn, a novelist, and Deep Jackson, a hip-hop artist. Alvarez is a New York native, poet and self-described hip-hop head.
Also, as part of the program, Dunn will read from his new book “Travel with Nas” and Jackson will perform.
WVU Libraries will host “Collage Art: A panel discussion around collage as an art and therapy” Friday at noon. Preregistration is required for this Zoom event.
The panel presentation is in conjunction with artist Corrine Lightweaver’s collage display currently up in Health Sciences Library through December.
Presenters will be Annie McFarland, WVU assistant professor and Art Therapy Program coordinator, and Linda Rosefsky, art historian. Libraries Exhibits Coordinator Sally Brown will moderate.
Lightweaver is the EveryLibrary 2021 Artist-in-Residence. Her exquisite collage-work is about the “delicate balance between people and nature as part of the story of public, private and school libraries.” The exhibition of collages, weaving animal imagery with people, domestic objects and architecture, debuted at Hastings Library in Pasadena, California in 2021.
Peonies were a popular choice of painters, especially for artists of China and Japan and French impressionist artists. French impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir said that “painting flowers rests my brain. . . . I place my colors and experiment with values boldly, without worrying about spoiling a canvas.” The same held true for West Virginia artist Arthur J. “Pete” Ballard, who said he too “love[d] to play with color, light, shadows, seasons, the sky.” His “James Woods Crimson Peonies” painting exemplifies this obsession with vibrant colors, quick brush strokes, and contrast with lighting.
“For almost sixty years, I have ached to paint peonies,” Ballard wrote in one reflection upon his work. Born in Welch, West Virginia, in 1931, Ballard won an art scholarship to attend a fine arts school, but he decided that he wanted something more. He graduated with a degree in education from Concord University. Much of his post-collegiate life was spent as a teacher, as he taught English in China, India, Saudi Arabia, and other places.
However, he remained fascinated by art and costume design. Upon returning to the United States, he was an instructor at the North Carolina School of the Arts. He further developed his passion for costumes through conservation of old costumes and his design of historical dolls, which exhibited the fashions of the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. He worked as a curator for fashion exhibits at many North Carolina and other museums. The Ballard collection at the WVRHC includes many papers and articles about his lectures, exhibits, dolls, and paintings. The collection also contains many paintings of flowers, still life and other subjects (to see more about the collection, A&M 3869, see the finding aid). It was not until his retirement when he could pursue painting further, which Ballard was happy to do. “It’s an exciting way to spend one’s time in retirement. You can make all the mistakes you want, then correct them,” and added, “There are endless possibilities for subject matter.”
There are also endless possibilities for painters when it comes to painting peonies. Ballard noted, “The enormous beauty of peonies has always held a fascination for artists.” In Chinese and Japanese culture, peonies are a symbol of status, wealth, and beauty. In China, where these flowers have been grown for several thousand years, they are referred to sometimes as “the king of flowers.” Since Ballard spent time in China, perhaps he was influenced by different styles of Chinese artists and paintings of peonies and other flowers. French impressionist artists also took to painting flowers, especially peonies, as they offered many opportunities for color and light experimentation. Many of Ballard’s favorite artists were impressionists, as he described his admiration for artists like John Singer Sargent and Joaquín Sorolla, both of whom painted in impressionist style.
Ballard’s “James Woods’ Crimson Peonies” painting demonstrates impressionist influences. The colors are vibrant. Although the peonies are described as “crimson,” there is no one color that defines the painting, which awes the viewer with a wide array of pinks, purples, and reds. Ballard catches the light and shadows of the painting, making the peonies seem life-like. The vivid green background suits the painting well. When trying to find another color to use as the background for this painting, Ballard couldn’t help but paint it green. “The hills were green, so were the trees; the grass was green, so were all the leaves,” Ballard wrote, thereby settling on the color of nature as his background.
After so many years, Pete Ballard was finally able to fulfill his aching desire to paint these bright peonies. The “James Woods’ Crimson Peonies” picture exemplifies the complexities of painting such beautiful, colorful flowers that have garnered admiration from painters and viewers alike around the world.
 “Memories and Momentos: Artwork by Peterstown Resident on Display in N.C.,” May 11, 2000, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Box 2, “2000 Exhibition of My Paintings at Gertrude Smith House-Mt. Airy, NC.” Arthur J. Ballard, Costume Artist and Curator, Papers, A&M 3869, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia.
 Pete Ballard, “Memories and Mementos: A Collection of Paintings and Commentaries,” 2000, Box 2, “2000 Exhibition of My Paintings at Gertrude Smith House-Mt. Airy, NC.” Arthur J. Ballard, Costume Artist and Curator, Papers, A&M 3869, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia.
 “Memories and Momentos: Artwork by Peterstown Resident on Display in N.C.”
 Pete Ballard, “Memories and Mementos: A Collection of Paintings and Commentaries,”
 Pete Ballard, “Memories and Mementos: A Collection of Paintings and Commentaries.”
“In choosing a book like ‘Interior Chinatown,’ we not only bring a book of outstanding literary merit to our campus, but one that challenges us to think deeply about aspects of race in America, of the roles we play, and of our sense of home, among many others,” WVU Humanities Center Director Renée Nicholson, who oversees the Campus Read, said. “It balances the weight of these themes with a compelling protagonist and satirical humor.”
Students who are interested in book-related careers can learn more about job opportunities post-graduation, including how to prepare academically, personally and professionally to pursue these career paths.
WVU faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the grand opening ceremony of a unique photo exhibit, “A ‘Double Whammy’ of Disasters: Flooding and COVID-19 in Rural West Virginia,” on Monday, Sept. 12 from 5:15 – 6:45 p.m. in the Health Sciences Center’s Fukushima Auditorium Lobby.
Images curated by Jamie Shinn, assistant professor in West Virginia University’sDepartment of Geology and Geography, and John Wyatt, her community partner, narrate rural life in Rainelle, W.Va. as the community faced both the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic along with ongoing devastation from West Virginia’s notorious 2016 flooding, which damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.
John Cuthbert, former director of the West Virginia & Regional History Center, retired December 31, 2021, with more than 40 years of service to WVU Libraries. A reception in his honor will be held Friday, September 23, from 3-5 p.m. in the Downtown Library’s Milano Reading Room.
Cuthbert spent his career telling anyone who would listen about the Mountain State’s rich cultural artistic heritage.
“West Virginia is unique in many ways and certainly has one of the most interesting histories of any state in the Union,” Cuthbert said. “My mission throughout my career was to shed light on subjects and people who defy stereotypes about West Virginia.”
As part of my job as photographs manager, I field research questions and fulfill orders for high resolution copies of photographs in our collection. The most common request is from authors and publishers securing photographs for their books, but the WVRHC actually serves a much broader audience. Here are a few categories of requests that I receive on a monthly basis!
This photo was previously listed on the site as standing at Putnam Street and Highland Avenue, but this was incorrect information as the two roads do not intersect. A patron— the current owner and resident of this home— contacted us with the correction after discovering the photo online.
The patron also generously provided a photo of the house as it stands today (2022). You can see the clothesline, on the left, is still in use!
A surprising number of ghost hunters and storytellers purchase copies in the course of their research, whether to spruce up their podcast thumbnails or to publish in newspaper articles. I’ve also had ghost hunters once purchase a photo to give their psychic a source to pore over in search of clues. The belief that photographs can “capture one’s soul” remains popular in occult study circles!
Miniature Model Makers
Some of my favorite photo requests come from folks in the miniatures hobby. Attention to detail can be paramount in recreating props and machinery, and some hobbyists will go to great lengths to get accurate references— and what better to use as a reference than an actual photo?
Trains are a popular subject in this category, as their makeup is quite complicated.
As mentioned, the largest percentage of photo requests come from authors and researchers hoping to illustrate their papers and books with photographs. That doesn’t mean their requests are always cut-and-dry, though; some authors need assistance finding appropriate photos for their subject matter, leading to a treasure hunt on my part for good images.
One author recently asked me to help them locate the origin of this photo:
…as they had taken a phone pic of it a few years prior but lost the information about where it came from. I was able to locate it as being part of this photograph:
…which the patron promptly purchased!
These examples are not exhaustive, but they represent the variety of requests the WVRHC fields when it comes to photographs. The breadth of populations we serve keeps every day interesting!
In July, West Virginia University Libraries began a partnership with the Public Library of Science (PLOS) to provide researchers with the opportunity to publish, free of processing charges, in any of their Open Access titles over the next three years.
PLOS is a nonprofit, Open Access publisher with a suite of 12 influential Open Access journals across all areas of science and medicine. Open Access refers to free, immediate and permanent online access to digital full-text scientific and scholarly material, primarily research articles published in peer-reviewed journals.
“Investment in open access initiatives is one of the WVU Libraries’ five collection funding priorities. This PLOS agreement is another significant step forward,” said Beth Royall, past-chair of the WVU Libraries Collections Advisory Committee.