Feature Friday : MommieDawn

This weeks Featured shop is MommieDawn: She has AMAZING photographs of the Kentucky Landscape. She has captured our beautiful state very well in her work. She is also an activist for changing the way we mine for coal. It is very destructive to the environment and has a lasting impact on nearby families. She has provided a link Ilovemountains.org so we can read up more on how this mining has such an impact on the landscape.

She was very happy to to be featured shop this week, I am very proud to have her on the team. We have so much talent here I am constantly amazed! Here goes the interview;

So Miss Dawn tell us a bit about yourself?? My mother is from Perry County, KY and my father from Beckley, WV so I am 100% Appalachian and that is something I treasure. I was actually raised in Frankfort, KY. I adore Frankfort of course with its varied topography, lush landscape, and colorful history. But I have to admit I feel more of an attachment to Eastern Kentucky where I spent much of my time in Grapevine and Chavies near Hazard. I think it was such an adventure growing up, each time my mother, brother and I traveled the Mountain Parkway and watched the land and roads change from the gentle hills of central Kentucky to the foothills and then on into the beautiful green mountains that were the backdrop for experiences that shaped our lives.

Ya got any kids? How is the family? I am now married with two children and I hope I can give to them the chance to have a childhood as magical as mine. There’s will be spent traveling mostly to Shelby County, KY to see my mother who has settled on beautiful forested property with a large pond and their paternal grandparents who also have a forested retreat for them to explore.

If you have a day job tell us about it! I have been working in highway design since I was 19 years old. So that’s eleven years now, wow!

Tell us ALLL about your Art! My photography is an effort to tell my story. I have a photographic memory and make strong associations with my visual and emotional experiences. So every photograph in the collection that I choose to share is offering something of me to the viewer. I sometimes know right away that a photo is perfect and that I want to share it. Sometimes, though, I am prone to ignoring a photo for a long time and then stumbling upon it later only to realize it is stunning. This initial overlooking is because I need time to forget my emotional experiences when I was moved to photograph something before I can let go of the fact that I may not have accomplished what I wanted to with a particular shot. And then, the beauty that is there can reveal itself to me and I feel so lucky!

I did not realize that my photography told a story until I was considering moving beyond the joy of privately collecting them and instead sharing them also with others. At that point I began to wonder how I would discuss them with others and I realized that there is a tremendous focus on what moves me about Kentucky itself. A simple locust tree, considered a weed by some, is a glorious display, especially when you find rows of them and it seems there are infinite delicate white blooms dangling like wisteria. Then there is my personal history as an activist trying to help sound the alarm about what mountain top removal and valley fills are doing to the Appalachian Mountains in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

I remember when I was studying in the library and heard some agricultural PhD students discussing their work and doing flyovers of an area that they were monitoring. They could not pronounce the word correctly but I knew that they were talking about my Chavies! I tuned in and heard that there was this astounding amount of destruction visible from the air and that from their perspective it was just pitiful, even laughable that it had been allowed to happen. And so that was my wake up call. I heard then that the University of Kentucky was going to sell some of the Robinson Forest in Breathitt County off to be mined in order to raise money for a scholarship fund. I got heavily involved in the fight to curb those intentions. It was clear that my people were being asked to choose between pristine land (and I say this technically because there is a watershed that is unscathed there by human activity and to say this is important would be an understatement) and their children. Let me reiterate my point, the people of Eastern Kentucky, in this situation, were being told in essence, they had too give up their land for their children’s educations. When I made that point in front of a panel of politicians I felt like an outsider as the mayor of a town in an area I’d lay my heart and soul out for told me to go back where I came from. But two days later the politician who had started the inquiry into selling the land changed his mind and said nearly verbatim what I had that day in a newspaper article. I knew at that point that I could make some tiny ripple of an effect and I haven’t stopped trying to pay attention and do what I can since.

These days I am not a student, and so I have no time for demonstrations and going door to door to affect policy. But, I write my representatives every time I’m made aware of a vote that holds promise for change. And now I have a mission to share the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains with art collectors and hope that they’ll take an interest in the artist enough to discover that I am praying they’ll notice that there’s an entire region wishing that the rest of us would realize that our conveniences and cheap energy come at a huge cost. Children die when boulders break free from mining jobs and land on their beds, homes are literally knocked off their foundations and carried downstream when impoundment ponds fail and release millions of gallons of toxic sludge so that it can bury everything in reach and pollute the resources of untold numbers of people.

In a sense my photographs are just pretty visions captured on film. But I hope that the collection can become a tribute to my ancestry and my descendants and chiefly, a visual stimulation of empathy for the Appalachian region. Too often we are presented images of poverty, but that’s not the story I want to tell. Our land is beautiful and worthy of reverence.

Any other hobbies? Among my other hobbies, I am a knitter, one who is attempting to draw and paint from time to time, and I LOVE graphic design, making invitations for events that are special and unique or ad layouts, etc. I owe an unending debt of gratitude to my mother for letting me waste her materials while I tried to be as creative as she is growing up!! I hope to find what comes as naturally to me as so many things do to her. I remember when she taught me to draw each leaf on a tree instead of just the outline of a canopy. Watching her layout designs for things over the years…how it all just flows from her, she’s definitely been the inspiration for exploring this part of myself.

Thanks so much Dawn, this was a great interview! I can really feel you have so much passion for your work and its obvious thru your gorgeous photos.

You can click on any picture in the Etsy Mini to go to her shop. Thanks SO much Dawn for being my latest "Victim" ! Keep making those purty pictures!

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade


Dawn said...

Thank you Libby for the interview. Today I turned 30 years old!! So I feel extra special with all the attention, haha!! Take care everyone! If you visit my shop after reading this blog and make a purchase, please say so in the message to seller so that I can give you 10% off!!

KimberlyRies said...

Wow, what an interesting interview. I loved reading your story Dawn! I enjoy nature photography too so I can relate to how you feel when you capture the imagery of that very moment in time. Happy Birthday to you! I look forward to meeting you in a couple weeks!

Jackie said...

Your photos are really beautiful, Dawn. Your shop gives everyone a chance to see how beautiful our state is. Happy 30th!

Unknown said...

What a great interview! Dawn, your photography is lovely, and I really enjoyed reading about your crafting and causes! Happy Birthday as well!