Combating Environmental Destruction With Art

Updated 2 years ago Edited from a Press Release
Combating Environmental Destruction With Art
Image: Power Line By Betsy Jaeger

Morgantown’s home for the arts and culture, Monongalia Arts Center (MAC), is once again using art to champion justice. MAC is teaming up with local artist Betsy jaeger, who created an exhibition titled Inside Looking Out to share both the nostalgic beauty that once existed and the current state of ruin in her community in Western Monongalia County.


With the advent of modern mining equipment in the mid-2000s, surface coal mining in western Monongalia County quickly grew in scale, and Jaeger perceived a seismic shift in her community. She refused to sell her rural home and mineral rights to a coal company, even though some of her neighbors had begun, one by one, to agree to sell their mineral rights. According to Jaeger, some also sold their entire properties.


“We watched what had been a charming farm community become an industrial wasteland in just two years,” she says. “There was not enough bond money to pay for adequate reclamation.”


In 2012, strip mining began directly in front of her home, adjacent to her property line. Jaeger tracked more than 200 blasts, which rattled the foundation of her home, and she monitored the water quality in her local stream, finding high levels of heavy metals near mining outfalls.


This exhibition recreates the views outside of her 12 windows, past and present, using mixed-media elements such as sculpture, photographs and paintings to highlight the drastic changes caused by strip mining and fracking. The artwork in this exhibition is meant to be both beautiful and eye-opening, contrasting the natural beauty of rural West Virginia with some of the worst aspects of rapid industrialization and waste. The exhibition was featured prominently in The Appalachian Voice, and the article is available at


MAC invites all to attend the opening reception with no admission on March 3, starting at 6 pm. Two galleries will open simultaneously, including the gender-bending and thought-provoking Rebel Rebel, upstairs in the Davis Gallery; and Inside Looking Out, downstairs in the Benedum Gallery. MAC is located at 107 High Street, Morgantown, WV.  Inquiries should be directed to or 304-292-3325.

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