The website you are visiting at this moment is the present state of this large effort, and what follows this paragraph is an alphabetized list of the people who have sat for at least one interview to date as well as a very brief explanation of each interviewee’s connection to Appalshop and, lamentably, only a small amount of information about the various interviews’ contents. Some of these interviewees have only a loose affiliation with Appalshop, while others were present at the organization’s creation. In total, thirty-nine individuals have sat for long form interviews about their lives and their paths to, through, and away from Appalshop.
Atlas worked as a development director at Appalshop for nearly a decade, and she played a central role in developing the American Festival Project while building bridges between Appalshop and its allies in New York City.
Banks taught at Whitesburg High School in 1969, and invited Bill Richardson to discuss the Appalachian Community Film Workshop with several of his gifted students, some of whom ended up working at Appalshop. He also has worked with Appalshop, especially WMMT, independently.
Bingman recounts her many connections to Appalshop and Appalachian activism over the years, and she discusses her employment as an administrator at Appalshop as well.
Brouwers remembers her work with Appalshop in creating a 2004 performance art piece about Robert F. Kennedy’s trip to East Kentucky in 1968. She shares poignant memories about the process of organizing that project.
Representing a younger demographic, one committed to both traditional mountain culture and a punk rock aesthetic, Carter discusses his work with WMMT, the Pick and Bow program, and June Appal Records. He talks about his family’s roots in Marrowbone, and his memories of listening to LPs by both Nimrod Workman and Black Sabbath.
Cocke discusses his path from Tidewater Virginia to the mountains and, eventually, Appalshop’s Roadside Theater. He discusses the theater’s innovative methodology in the context of movements for social justice and political change. Cocke also remembers the exhilaration and joy of directing the “Red Fox/Second Hangin’” troupe on the road.
Davis describes his relationship with Appalshop in its early years as well as his eventual role as the organization’s president. He discusses his past leadership and explains his recent efforts to promote awareness about rural issues through the Center for Rural Strategies.
This audio-only interview looks at Faulkner’s work as a cameraman and filmmaker at Appalshop during the 1970s and 1980s. He expresses his memories with warm nostalgia and great laughter, recollecting them from his home in the Mississippi River Delta.
Now a professor of media at the University of Texas-Austin, Garrison recalls what he learned at Appalshop and how it continues to inform his efforts as a filmmaker. He describes his work to bring Gurney Norman’s “Fat Monroe” to life as a film as well as his documentation of many creative people from the region.
A community DJ on WMMT, Gish is the son of Tom and Pat Gish, the legendary journalists who published The Mountain Eagle, a vitally important newspaper in Eastern Kentucky. He describes his time at Appalshop as an escape of sorts--a fun way to participate in his community and the world of music.
Goldbard discusses Appalshop and, especially, Roadside Theater from the perspective of an outside observer who has consulted with Appalshop on a number of occasions. Her comparative awareness of arts programs provides her with a thoughtful vantage for assessing Appalshop’s contributions and work.
Haft looks at Roadside Theater from the perspective of a recent intern who came to appreciate political theater as a result of learning about Roadside while a student at New York University.
Now an associate professor at Appalachian State University, Hansell remembers working at Appalshop in the 1980s--when he was one of the few young people on staff. His efforts in filmmaking and radio inspired him to continue work as a filmmaker after leaving Appalshop.
Jennings discusses her work at Appalshop starting in the 1980s and, then, how she commuted between Louisville, Whitesburg, and other locations as a co-producer, with Elizabeth Barret, of the award-winning Appalshop film “Stranger with a Camera” (1999).
Keber was an intern at Appalshop in the early twenty-first century, and she discusses how that experience--and particularly having worked with Mimi Pickering--influenced her life as a documentary filmmaker in New Orleans, where she has made films such as “Bayou Maharajah” (2013).
Kirby discusses being raised in and around Appalshop and how she eventually worked there, using film and radio to promote awareness about the plight of prisoners at for-profit prisons in the region.
Rich Kirby discusses his deep connection to central Appalachia, his decision to move to the region, his work as a musician, and eventually how this brought him into the Appalshop fold through June Appal Records and, later, WMMT.
Lewis discusses her arrival in central Appalachia as a part of the crew for Barbara Kopple’s Harlan County: USA (1976), a project that led her to Appalshop in interesting and unexpected ways. Now an associate professor of practice at the University of Texas-Austin, Lewis built a career at Appalshop marked by her prolific output and her engagement with political issues.
The Grandmother of Appalachian Studies, Lewis discusses her many connections to Appalshop--including her encouragement of Cinch Valley College students to work there and, eventually, her decision to work there herself during the 1980s.
The director of “RFK in EKY” (2004), a community-based reenactment of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 tour of Eastern Kentucky, Malpede recalls his background in theater and the arts, and explains how he and the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), his California-based theater company, ended up working with Appalshop.
Newell remembers his youth in Whitesburg, his excitement for the Appalachian Community Film Workshop, and his career as an Appalshop cameraman as well as a producer of Headwaters Television. He recollects everything from meeting the Maysles Brothers and teaching courses about the craft of filmmaking to holding his ground when people tried to prevent him and Anne Lewis from filming an industrialized and devastated mountain landscape.
Nitzberg interned at Appalshop, and during that time he became acquainted with Jesco White, a West Virginia dancer and musician. He subsequently made films that are controversial for their portrayal of Appalachian culture. He reflects on these controversies within the context of his upbringing in the Bronx and Austria, his experiences in Whitesburg, and his subsequent life in Los Angeles.
Pickering describes her path from California to Appalshop. Pickering discusses her many mentors in the worlds of filmmaking and Appalachian Studies as well as her impressive catalog of Appalshop films and her engagements with WMMT and community outreach.
Portelli, a celebrated oral historian of many topics, including Harlan County, first visited Appalshop in the 1980s, and he came to see the organization as a model for his own cultural institute in Rome, Italy, Circolo Gianni Bosio.
Porterfield recalls her work with Roadside Theater, explaining how she organized and promoted its various engagements in Appalachia and beyond. She also discusses her own efforts to launch original plays exploring political and social justice.
Ratliff remembers his upbringing, and emphasizes the role of music and family in his life. He recalls the excitement people felt, during his childhood, when Loretta Lynn’s tour bus motored through Van Lear, and he reflects on his many musical projects and creative collaborations. These streams of thought come to a confluence as Ratliff discusses the promise and challenge of working at Appalshop’s WMMT through the era of the Great Recession.
Richardson, the founder of the Appalachian Community Film Workshop, discusses how he visited Letcher County while earning a graduate degree in architecture at Yale University. Prominent Eastern Kentuckians, including Harry Caudill, Tom Gish, and Pat Gish, played a key role in recruiting Richardson to Whitesburg. After Appalshop, he focused his worklife on architecture projects; notably, Richardson designed Appalshop’s headquarters.
Richardson recalls the experiences of her upbringing as well as her unlikely path to Eastern Kentucky. Specifically, she remembers how it was that she ended up accompanying her husband to Whitesburg and how it was that the two of them decided the town should become their permanent home. Richardson remembers the family atmosphere of the early Appalshop years, and she discusses serving on the Kentucky Arts Council as well as starting the Cozy Corner Bookstore in Whitesburg, where she has hosted and supported regional writers.
Ryerson came to Appalshop as an intern in the early twenty-first century and, eventually, came to work at Appalshop, engaging with radio, traditional music educational programming, and more. Ryerson also explores how her work around prison activism in Appalachia motivated her to start programs and media-based efforts in New York that were based on those she had participated in while at Appalshop.
Short shares his vivid memories of the rich community life he remembers from his childhood in southwestern Virginia. Short discusses the revelatory experience of learning from Helen Lewis, his work with Roadside Theater, and his collaborations with people from different backgrounds, particularly John O’Neal and Edward Wemytewa. He also explains his effort to spread Appalachian music through his performances.
Slie visited Appalshop through his engagement with Alternate ROOTS, an organization that networks and supports placed-based art programs. He describes how Appalshop, and especially Roadside Theater, inspires his work with the New Orleans arts organization Mondo Bizarro.
Smith describes his family’s roots in Eastern Kentucky, his early engagement with Appalshop, and his sustained work there since 1969. He shares stories of fundraising and collaboration across an array of projects--especially films.
Taylor discusses his work with Roadside Theater in the context of his extensive touring as an actor in “Red Fox/Second Hangin’” when it traveled throughout the United States. Memorably, he compares the experience of the troupe on the road to the antics of the Beastie Boys. Taylor also touches on how those experiences led him toward his current career as a successful television and film actor.
Webb explains his background and upbringing, his college years, and his career as a poet and Appalachian Studies professor before landing on a long description of how he ended up at WMMT as well as what he feels Appalshop represents.
This audio-only interview with Wemytewa, a resident of Zuni Pueblo, looks at Appalshop from his perspective as a collaborator with Roadside Theater. He credits an experience with Roadside as having changed his life by sending him on a path toward creating art, bringing together his community, and engaging in politics.
Willis discusses his life as a media maker with an eye toward how his work led him to the coalfields, where he made “Rich Land, Poor People” in 1968. He discusses that film in the context of Eastern Kentucky during the 1960s and explores both its negative and positive reception. He also recalls the siting of the Appalachian Community Film Workshop and his involvement in scouting its final location.
This audio-only interview with Wisdom addresses the social, cultural, and professional experiences of Appalshop’s first African American employee. He worked at Appalshop primarily to plan and coordinate a major national arts event in Whitesburg. Wisdom remembers sometimes meaningful and other times tense relationships across the color line in Letcher County. After leaving Kentucky, he became a famous actor, one perhaps best known for playing Major Howard “Bunny” Colvin on The Wire (2003-2008).
Wright discusses his family background, his upbringing in southwestern Virginia, his experiences as a soldier in Vietnam, and his education at Clinch Valley College. He recalls his path toward becoming the director of June Appal Records, and discusses his own musical performances and theatrical work in the context of his life experiences.