Mommy, Mamaw and Them began as an exploration of oral history with relation to motherhood and the arts. The project has become an artistic and literary statement on the strength of the bonds formed by Appalachian women, bonds that stretch across years and miles. Through art and literature, my own mother and I have created a collection of short stories along with accompanying works of art based on the women who run the hills hollers and shape our lives. Artworks by Bonita Skaggs-Parsons will be displayed in the space made available and I will do a reading of flash fiction inspired by stories given to us by women who have roots deep in the region. Research for this project was conducted in cozy kitchens over hot coffee and hotter gossip. Memories were collected the old fashioned way, over the telephone with the voices of our gal pals intimately attached to our ears. Inspiration for this modern collaboration is rooted in the hillbilly storytelling tradition.
Both my mother and grandmother are artists and I am lucky to have come from a long line of intelligent, strong-willed, East Kentucky women. This project touches on themes like a deep-rooted sense of place and the role(s) of women in the Appalachian family. With art and writing we have attempted to express intimate, generational voices. Through Mommy, Mamaw and Them, we hope to inspire not only an emotional reaction, but also to spark thought and conversation in regards to important women's issues here in the Appalachian region.