McMinn County exhibit celebrates 'Vanishing Appalachia'

McMinn County exhibit celebrates 'Vanishing Appalachia'

January 4th, 2013 by Rachel Bunn in Local Regional News

This photograph of moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton is part of the traveling exhibition "Vanishing Appalachia" by photographer Don Dudenbostel and media producer Tom Jester. The exhibition is on loan to the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in Athens, Tenn. this month from the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville.

IF YOU GO

What: Vanishing Appalachia at the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum

When: Monday through Feb. 22

Where: 522 W. Madison Ave., Athens, Tenn.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday

Cost: $5 admission; $3 for students and seniors

More information: www.livingheritagemuseum.com

For Amy Blackburn, a photograph of moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton exemplifies the heart of the Appalachian character.

The photograph, part of Vanishing Appalachia, a traveling exhibit of photographs and recordings by Don Dudenbostel and Tom Jester, will be on display at the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in January and February.

"What his expression to me portrays is the importance of leading his independent lifestyle," said Blackburn, executive director of the museum. "When you look at his expression, it is a wonderful, idealized version of the true Appalachian character."

The exhibit is on loan from the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville and is sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society.

It consists of photographs of the people of Appalachia by Dudenbostel, and about 20 recordings of many of those photographed.

"When we look at history, there's many ways to examine it," Blackb urn said. "To hear an oral history brings us right into that person's life immediately."

The project began half a century ago with Dudenbostel, the photographer, simply taking pictures of things he found interesting.

But as he noticed many elements of Appalachian culture disappearing, he began to document Appalachian life more aggressively. He and Jester, who produced the recordings, went out and captured many of the aspects of life they felt soon would disappear.

"I really had no concept over 50 years ago that time would change so quickly," Dudenbostel said. "I just felt it was important. Once this culture has disappeared, it's not returning."