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Exploring tradition and impermanence: art exhibit opens at Ohio University Southern

The Ohio University Southern Art Gallery will host an art exhibit featuring regional artist and Ohio University graduate Victoria Knipp in November.

The exhibit is scheduled to open on Nov. 2, with a reception at 5 p.m., and will be on display in the OHIO Southern Art Gallery, located in room 111 of the Dingus Technology Center. This exhibit delves into the relationship between tradition and impermanence in the context of the Appalachian region.

In the exhibit, Knipp masterfully navigates the heart of a region rich in history, culture and industry. Through her artwork, Knipp tackles the complexities and challenges that Appalachians face, and her pieces serve as a visual commentary on the shifting paradigms within this unique cultural landscape.

"Tradition exists through many forms in Appalachian life,” said Knipp. “From a passing down of crochet, to generational career paths in steel mills and coal mines, Appalachians have been ingrained with a mentality of tradition that has, and continues to work its way through generations." The exhibit grapples with the central dilemma of what happens when these longstanding traditions are threatened or cease to exist. The loyalty to family and location, rooted in the belief that "my grandfather did it, my father does it, and I'll do it next," is put to the test as traditional industries dwindle.

The exhibit showcases Knipp's artistic exploration of these issues by utilizing traditional Appalachian materials and techniques. The exhibit features meticulously crafted "precious" objects, such as fabric canaries and quilt-work signs, juxtaposed with the transient existence of damaged cardboard and its symbolism of impermanence and relocation. The interplay between these elements creates a visually stunning representation of the dilemma faced by the people of Appalachia.

Through her work, Knipp invites viewers to experience a range of emotions, from anxiety and foreboding to sentimentality. The exhibit poses essential questions about the preservation of Appalachian culture in the face of industrial decline and transformation. Knipp's artistic vision captures the essence of the Appalachian person's struggle to adapt and decide whether to fight for the preservation of their industrial heritage or embrace change.

This exhibit promises to engage your senses and ignite a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the resilient people of Appalachia.

October 30, 2023
Staff reports