“My Body Will Blacken: Coal, Industry and the Miner in American Art,” an exhibition about American coal miners organized by West Virginia University Art Museum Curator Robert Bridges, will be on view at the Clay Center in Charleston May 1 through June 27.
The exhibition presents images of struggles endured by miners and their families, while illustrating their heroic nature. It also highlights the influence of mining professions on American industry and life during the first half of the 20th century.
The artwork, dating from 1917 to 1951, focuses on both the industrial landscape and workers who labored in that environment.
“This exhibition of 24 prints, drawings, photographs and paintings selected from the WVU art collection offers a broader perspective and reflects the excitement of that changing American landscape back in the early years of the industry,” Bridges said.
“Mining life is presented with all its hardships and troubles, as well as the hope for and promise of better times to come.”
This is an especially poignant and timely exhibit, presented in the wake of the recent mining disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County. It has been dedicated to the memory of the 29 miners who lost their lives.
“My Body Will Blacken” is sponsored by the International Coal Group, Inc., and premiered at the Ware Family Gallery at WVU’s Blaney House in 2008.
Also on view at the Clay Center from May 1 to June 27 is the 67th Allied Artists of West Virginia Juried Exhibition.
This exhibition is juried by Bridges and Elizabeth Bennett Hupp, assistant curator of the Columbus Museum of Art. Selected from 395 entries submitted by 215 artists, the show includes a variety of work in all media by artists residing in West Virginia.
Clay Center gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m.
A special reception for both exhibitions will be held at the Clay Center on Friday, May 21 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
For more information, please contact the Clay Center at 304-561-3570, or go visit the website www.theclaycenter.org.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
304-293-4841 ext. 3108, Charlene.Lattea@mail.wvu.edu