A dedication ceremony was presented recently at the East Kentucky Social Club in Lynch where three tile mosaic sculptures have been permanently placed. Robert Gipe, Director of the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) in Cumberland, said the work was sponsored and supported by Brushy Fork Institute in Berea, through a Flex-E-Grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Kentucky Arts Council and SKCTC.
“We’re here today to dedicate three tile mosaic sculptures,which were created by students at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and other community artists,” said Gipe. “The suitcases are part of a series of public artwork we’re creating in the Tri-Cities to celebrate how all the different people came to this area to work in the coal mines. The suitcases are covered with quotes from oral histories of African Americans and faces of residents in the area. It took about two years to get these mosaics built. We’re really proud of them and honored that people would want to share their stories with us.”
SKCTC President Dr. Bruce Ayers said Gipe and his programs are making a difference not only in the Tri-City area, but across eastern Kentucky.
“I think we owe Robert a debt of gratitude,” said Ayers. “In reality we are one people. We are interconnected in ways we just didn’t realize or appreciate. We’ve always had a sense of kinship here in the Tri-City area. I hope we can use this project, the one we have in Cumberland and another one that is coming soon, to build a tighter coalition between the people in this area and build a stronger community. To do this we have to work together.”
East Kentucky Social Club President Bennie Massey said Harlan Countians need to” watch out for one another.” He said this project was completed with “a lot of people working together to give back to the community, and the Social Club is honored to have the artwork on their campus.”
Saying his family is about to celebrate 100 years since they “came over on a boat from Italy,” Lynch Mayor Johnny Adams said the Tri-Cities area is made up of immigrants from all over the United States and across the world.
“We’re all related,” said Adams. “If we didn’t come over on a boat, we came on a train or in a truck to work in the coal mines at Lynch. I am proud to represent my city at this ceremony today.”
Three of the artists who worked on the mosaics, Elli Scott-Pace, of Richmond, Elizabeth Jones, of Putney, and Lauren Adams, of Cumberland, were present for the dedication, along with a large crowd of local dignitaries and residents.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org