POINT PLEASANT — While some look through old photo albums to reminisce about their own past, some also use photographs to teach and to inform the public of another time in history.
Such is the case with “The Arthur Siegel Project,” which will be coming to the Point Pleasant River Museum in 2013. Still in its beginning stages, “The Arthur Siegel Project” will consist of 20 photographs by Arthur Siegel when he visited Point Pleasant in 1943, during World War II.
According to project information provided by Jack Fowler, Executive Director of the River Museum, Siegel is the last photographer of ten photographers to visit West Virginia between 1934 and 1943 in conjunction with the Farm Security Administration Project, as well as being one of the least publicized. Fowler also stated the project will be put together by Betty Rivard of Duck, W.Va., in Braxton County.
The project information stated Siegel’s portfolio of Point Pleasant consists of over 100 photographs of various locations including the Marietta Boatworks, the C.S. Lewis farm, and the daily life of the Fergusen family. It was stated that Mr. Fergusen was the principal of the local junior high school during Siegel’s visit. Siegel’s Point Pleasant work is also described as “a view of middle-and working-class life in a small West Virginia town that contrast with backwoods images that have often defined the state.”
According to project information, Rivard’s work will include three main components, which are researching Siegel’s career and his visit to Point Pleasant, selecting 20 photographs from his visit to Point Pleasant to display at the museum, and producing labels and a catalog for the exhibit, as well as an article which is planned to be submitted to “WV History: A Journal of Regional Studies,” and possibly other publications.
In her research, according to the project information, Rivard will travel to Chicago, where Siegel was from and served as a photographer and educator, during the month of December to visit Siegel’s family to learn more about Siegel’s past and his work.
“We’re anxious to see this and present it to the area,” Fowler said. Fowler continued, saying he expects locals to find Siegel’s work from his Point Pleasant visit interesting.
“He was a great photographer,” Fowler added. Fowler said the display would be at the River Museum in July 2013. The project information also stated that 2013 is the 100th anniversary of Siegel’s birth and the project is meant to honor his legacy.
The River Museum also recently received a mini-grant worth $1500 from the West Virginia Humanities Council to fund Rivard’s travel and research. According to a press release, the Humanities Council provides grant and mini-grants to non-profit organizations that support educational programming and that deadlines for their mini-grants of $1500 or less occur every 60 days. The next deadlines for mini-grants are Dec. 1, 2012, and Feb. 1, 2013.
Other mini-grants recently awarded include the following: Union Elementary School in Upshur County, for a project called “Union Collects Oral Histories”; and the Augusta Heritage Center in Randolph County for a project called “Digital Preservation of the Glenville Collection Audio Archive.”
For more on the Humanities Council, visit www.wvhumanities.org. For more on the River Museum and their current exhibits, visit www.pprivermuseum.com.