A Nearly Concealed Heart, Opening April 26

Omar Blue, WV, Lori Brook Johnson

Since 1883, when coal companies began recording fatalities, it’s estimated that more than 21,000 miners have lost their lives in West Virginia coal mines. Lori Brook Johnson, a Mountain State native currently based in Bakersville, doesn’t take this fact lightly. According to her artist’s statement, she “uses the searching nature of drawing materials to speak with her community altered by labor and grief.” In one work, a group of dirty-faced children gather. These juveniles are so-called “breaker boys” — kids recruited to separate impurities from coal by hand. In another, a mining mule stares forlornly into the distance. These pieces will be on display during A Nearly Concealed Heart, a solo exhibition happening at the Owen Gallery inside the Toe River Arts building in Spruce Pine. As noted in a press statement, “This body of work explores labor and its effects on relationships, self-esteem, and one’s ability to grieve with a focus on the confident beauty that would have been expressed if loving care was given in place of exploitation.” The show closes on June 1. 

A Nearly Concealed Heart: April 26-June 1; Opening Reception: Friday, April 26, 5-7pm

Owen Gallery / 269 Oak Ave., Spruce Pine

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