Saturday
June
11
One Day Only
June 11, 2022
West Virginia was born out of rebellion. Its people immigrated from all across the world to start a new life in the wild frontier of the Appalachian Mountains. We’ve conquered and been conquered. Tamed the wilderness and lost their freedom to the opiate epidemic. We’ve fought to unionize and then had to leave to find work. Our history is rife with pride, independence, struggle and suffering.

This June, Clientele Art Studio celebrates everything that has made West Virginia what it is. We are more than just stereotypes, bridges, mines, mills, and murals of Betty Zane or Stonewall Jackson. This show, titled 1863, celebrates what West Virginia means to you. For me, personally, West Virginia is a land of opportunity wrapped in a chestnut husk of struggle. I think about my grandparents and their parents, who worked careers in steel mills and coal mines. They provided their families better lives than what could have been imagined back in Italy and Ireland at the time, only to retire with broken bodies before passing away from cancer. They accepted risks, both short term and long term, known and unknown, to build a foundation for their future generations.
We all have deep emotions tied to our state, from pride to disgust, love to hatred, joy to sorrow. I sometimes feel like it’s a rite of passage to desire to “goto college and move to a big city” or that initial feeling of disappointment when you return. For me, after I graduated and came back home, I spent a few years constantly complaining about my town and state. Eventually I realized that change doesn’t come from idle words, snide remarks, and negative Facebook comments. It takes action, and when I got involved, I learned how amazing this place is. Ask someone from any other state what their state motto is, or when their state gained its statehood. They won’t be able to answer, but West Virginians always will.
These emotions are what we want to highlight with this show. Most types of media are acceptable, as are most concepts as long as it mirrors your connections to West Virginia.