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Senior(s) Showcase



Article Published: Mar. 6, 2013 | Modified: Mar. 12, 2013
Senior(s) Showcase

‘Death in Sepia’ by WHS senior Emma Reeves Sirois



The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum (BRAHM) presents two new exhibits that literally span the generations.

The Watauga High School Senior Art and Graphic Design Exhibit is now on display, as is “W.R. Trivett: Imaging the Mountains,” a collection of early 20th-century photographs depicting life in Appalachia.



WHS Senior Art

Make way for the seniors.

Now in its second year, BRAHM has had exhibits featuring the works of famous painters, such as Elliott Daingerfield and Bob Timberlake, Civil War artifacts, and even the curious collections of North Carolina collectors.

Now, for the first time, BRAHM will feature the works of Watauga High School students.

The “WHS Senior Art and Graphic Design Exhibit” features the works of high school seniors involved in the art department’s Advanced Placement classes. The projects represent work that they submit to colleges and universities as part of their applications and the Advanced Placement program.

Last Thursday, WHS art instructor Lori Hill and assistant Rachel Kirk took advantage of a snow day to travel to Blowing Rock and hang the new exhibit in BRAHM’s community meeting room. The exhibit will remain on display until the end of March.

An artists’ reception for the exhibit will be held at BRAHM from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 7. The reception is in conjunction with one for the new photo exhibit, “W.R. Trivett: Imaging the Mountains.” That exhibit is on display at BRAHM’s Upstairs Gallery.

BRAHM is located at 159 Chestnut St. in downtown Blowing Rock. For more information, call BRAHM at (828) 295-9099, or visit http://www.blowingrockmuseum.org.



Imaging the Mountains

Professional photographers who captured the lives of Appalachian “mountaineers” of the early 20th century were notorious for making sure all of the trappings of hillbilly life were in the shot.

The moonshine jug, corncob pipe and other props were used in their photos to help sell them as souvenirs.

Photographer W.R. Trivett, however, wasn’t interested in perpetuating such stereotypes. Perhaps it was because he was a mountaineer himself.

BRAHM is presenting the new exhibit, “W.R. Trivett: Imaging the Mountains,” from now through the end of April. The exhibit is in BRAHM’s Upstairs Gallery and is presented in conjunction with a project by Appalachian State University, curated by graduate students from the university's public history program and undergraduate students from its art management program.

For the past few weeks, ASU students from the program have been arranging Trivett photographs, antique photography equipment and other items into a cohesive exhibit at BRAHM. The equipment is on loan from a local collector.

Trivett (1884-1966) was born into a farming family in Watauga County. A self-taught photographer, he was one of the earliest professionals to photograph the people of Watauga and Avery counties in a realistic manner.

Trivett left behind more than 400 glass plate negatives, dating from between 1907 and the late 1940s. Many of the negatives depict life as it was for the people living in the Beech Mountain community of Avery County.

Trivett also left behind a treasure trove of personal papers, detailing his life, work and photography subjects. Those papers and photographs were the basis for Ralph E. Lentz’s book, “W.R. Trivett, Appalachian Pictureman: Photographs of a Bygone Time,” published by McFarland Press in 2000. Lentz, a Blowing Rock resident, teaches history at Appalachian State University, Caldwell Community College and Lees-McRae College.

“The life and photographs of W.R. Trivett present an excellent opportunity to carefully examine and evaluate the work of the Appalachian picturemen,” said a spokesperson for BRAHM. “By answering the questions as to why and how Trivett made his pictures, and by placing his work within the context of the times in which they were made, the value of his and other picturemen’s often neglected or trivialized images reveals itself. And what is found within the photographs of W.R. Trivett is a quiet revelation about life in Appalachia.

“Between the late 1890s and the 1940s, self-taught yet highly competent photographers worked on the fringe of the photographic world. Lacking the economic and educational resources of their counterparts in the towns and cities of Appalachia, the picturemen served as liaisons to rural patrons who could not afford either the time or the money to have their picture taken by a professional studio photographer. Thus W.R. Trivett and other Appalachian picturemen recorded images of people and places that otherwise might have remained invisible in the pages of history.

“Trivett began in the early 1900s first by developing what were called ‘sun pictures.’ In July 1907, he ordered what was probably his first camera from the Conley Camera Company. From what has survived of Trivett’s collection, it appears that he ordered cameras and supplies through mail order catalogs and learned the craft through reading pamphlets on photography.

“By 1909, he had his own business cards and stamp set to mark the back of his photos. He moved to Flat Springs in 1926 and built his own ‘picture house’ (darkroom) behind the house. He mainly did portraits, individuals, families, couples, and the remaining photographs in the collection are of special occasions, such as weddings, baptisms, singings and revivals, and community gatherings, even some WPA workers during the Depression.Lentz inherited Trivett’s negatives through his grandmother. During 1996 and 1997, a friend made original prints from all of Trivett’s surviving negatives.”

The ASU art students also had access to and are using some artifacts saved by Trivett’s wife, Mertie Weaver Trivett, such as ledgers, paycheck stubs, letters and business cards for the new exhibit.



About BRAHM

BRAHM is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The museum is closed on Sunday and Monday.

Admission to BRAHM is $8 for adults and $5 for children 5 and older, students and military personnel. Group rates are available.

BRAHM is located at 159 Chestnut St. in downtown Blowing Rock. For more information, call BRAHM at (828) 295-9099, or visit http://www.blowingrockmuseum.org.



Editor's Note: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated that "W.R. Trivett: Imaging the Mountains" is presented in conjunction with a project by Appalachian State University’s Art Department and its curator studies program, when, in fact, it is curated by graduate students from the university's public history program and undergraduate students from its art management program. The story has been corrected as such.

Additional Images

‘Death in Sepia’ by WHS senior Emma Reeves Sirois

‘Veiled’ by WHS senior Jamie Schaller

‘Lilium Aurelianse’ by WHS senior Jessie Simon

Photo by W.R. Trivett

Photo by W.R. Trivett

Photo by W.R. Trivett

Photo by W.R. Trivett

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