April 13, 2010
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will unveil a new exhibit, Russia, Coming of Age Through the Eyes of an American 1993 - 2008, in the Balcony Gallery of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. An opening reception to celebrate the show will be held Sunday, April 18, at the Culture Center beginning at 2 p.m. The exhibit and reception are free and the public is invited to attend.
The exhibit is sponsored by Russia and West Virginia: A Partnership for Exchange Foundation, Inc., and consists of 30 photographs taken by Eric Douglas from 1993 to 2008. Visitors can see photographs of Red Square at night, one of which captures the image of the first Christmas tree seen on the square since the Communist Revolution; a flea market; fruit and vegetable stands; a tray painter hand painting on black lacquer trays; students studying in class; and much more.
In 1993, Douglas was on the first delegation trip from West Virginia to Russia, as a reporter for Charleston Newspapers Metro staff. He photographed Russia as it was in those early days of Perestroika, while it still looked very much as it had during the last 70 years under Communist rule. He made several trips to Russia in the 90s and even enjoyed an extended stay, teaching English at a school in Korolev. In 2008, Douglas returned to Russia to photograph the new and very modern Russia. He visited many of the same sites and photographed many of the same people from the 90s.
Douglas is also an author, having published three books and several short stories, and an avid scuba diver and instructor who lives in Durham, N.C.
The photography exhibit opening will include the Beckley Dance Theatre School USA presentation of Suite, Home WV at 2 p.m., in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Culture Center. Jerry Rose is the director of the dance school, and in 1997, he and dancers from his school traveled to Russia with the Russia and West Virginia Foundation for an artistic and cultural exchange.
In addition there will be opening remarks by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts; directors of the Russia and West Virginia Foundation; and photographer Eric Douglas. A Charleston-based band, Unfinished Business will play during the reception.
The Russia and West Virginia Foundation is a non-profit volunteer organization formed in 1993 to promote business, education, culture and community exchanges between Russia and the United States. While the foundation is based in, and centered around West Virginia and Korolev (formerly Kaliningrad), participants in the exchanges range all over the United States.
For more information about the exhibition, contact Virginia Simmons, a foundation director and director of adult education, Horry County, South Carolina, at (843) 450-6864, or visit the foundation’s Web site at www.rwvf.net. For more information about Eric Douglas and his other projects visit www.booksbyeric.com.
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. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.