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The Appalachian Center for the Arts opens space for ‘Native Reflections’

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 7:20 PM CST
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - The Appalachian Center for the Arts is opening its gallery area to display art created by Native Americans and Native-inspired artists.

“The Native Reflections: Visual Art by American Indians of Kentucky” display includes 23 pieces, with paintings, carvings, and music, from a collection of art curated by the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission.

“It’s really an area that is just starting to get the time and effort it deserves in terms of acknowledgment,” said Executive Director Robin Irwin.

According to Irwin, the center is excited to play a role in helping to promote and share the stories of the people whose culture created the Kentucky and Appalachia we know today.

“There is nothing more important than having people represent what their experience of life in the world is,” Irwin said. “Art does that better than anything else. Art, music, theater, dance. We tell our story. And that’s what we’re doing with this.”

The work includes pieces from 12 Kentuckians who identify as American Indian, including paintings from Letcher County woman, Tiffany Byette.

“The Native American experience is certainly one that- not only just Kentucky but around the nation- has often been overlooked and not as honored as it should be,” said Director of Education and Outreach Eric Buckley.

Buckley said the art is a way to celebrate native people while remembering how much their experiences continue to shape the world.

“This is an opportunity to sort of see it through the eyes of the people who experience it,” he said. “It’s a way to honor a part of Appalachian culture that is not always celebrated, not always thought of as being part of Appalachian culture.”

Some items from the Big Sandy Heritage Museum will also be included in the display.

The exhibit kicks off Friday with an opening ceremony at 4 p.m. and will be open to visitors weekdays from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. through February 14.

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