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Charleston artist Mary Cook to be featured in a new exhibit at the Cultural Center


The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will unveil a new exhibition, Family Tree: My Appalachian Heritage, an ongoing series of works by Mary Cook on Friday, May 7, in the Lobby Gallery of the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. An opening reception to meet the artist will be held that evening from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public. The show will remain on display through June 6.

A native of Neola, W.Va., Cook, who now lives in Charleston, received her bachelor’s degree in printmaking and master’s degree in painting from Marshall University. She was the recipient of numerous scholarships from Marshall University and the Huntington Museum of Art’s Walter Gropius Master Workshops which allowed her to study under master artists such as Don Eddy, Richard Haas, William Beckman, Alan Feltus and Christopher Brown. In addition to her art, this year Cook conducted an eight-week “Mural Project for High Risk Teens” for the Huntington Museum of Art in collaboration with fellow artist Sabina Hague, and started working as a gallery assistant for the Callen McJunkin Gallery in Charleston.

Cook has had solo exhibitions at the Upfront Gallery, Artspace Lobby Gallery and Wedgewood Gallery in Raleigh, N.C., Om Yoga Studio in Fayetteville, N.C., and Birke Art Gallery in Huntington, W.Va., among others. Her work can be found in corporate collections including University of North Carolina Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the private collections of Michael and Carol Nagy, Anthony Ulinski and Kim Church, and Margaret Skove.

Most of the exhibition will consist of two large works that capture the natural beauty of the mountains and landscape of West Virginia. Family Tree, for example, contains 21 oil on canvas tree paintings assembled in a grid with 28 small woodblock drawings of her family in various media suspended in front othe paintings. Another work, Refuge: Appalachian Mountains, is a landscape painting with acrylics on unstretched canvas measuring six feet by 21 feet.

These works were created in North Carolina where Cook had moved in 2001 because of her husband’s military orders. Cook says of the exhibition, “Drawing upon vintage family photos, I wanted to create drawings that could be suspended out from the mountains and trees.” She continues, “I believe I speak for many people that have roots planted deep inside these mountains - they have a power, a strength, a sense of refuge.”

For more information about Family Tree: My Appalachian Heritage, contact Stephanie Lilly, exhibits coordinator for the Division at (304) 558-0220, ext. 128.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Media Note: Mary Cook can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (304) 346-8889.