Art and Art History professor David Poolman screens video work Dark Holler in Scotland Festival

David Poolman, professor of Drawing, Video, and Sound in Art and Art History has a thriving practice in documentary and experimental media. Together with his artistic partner, Jeremy Drummond, he has traveled to the United States to document landscapes, research old-time music, and to interview communities throughout Central Appalachia. The result of this work is a project titled Dark Holler, which exhibited at Alchemy: Moving Image and Sound Festival in Scotland this past spring.

Video still from Dark Holler

Dark Holler was chosen as one of twelve installations in the festival’s programming and was showcased for a week in the back of a derelict store in Hawick, Scotland. In-between group visits and exhibition tours, David and his artistic partner Jeremy Drummond, a professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia, hosted four drop-in artist talks about the work.

The 30-minute observational, single-shot video captures the top of one of the few surviving mountains in the Kentucky Pine Mountain range that hasn’t been damaged due to new mining processes. The mountain exists in a coal mining area in Eastern Kentucky, but because it has no coal – it hasn’t been plowed for resources.

David and Jeremy, the two artistic collaborators of Never Met a Stranger, began Dark Holler five years ago initially planning to make an album about the sounds of environmental landscapes and how they’ve changed over hundreds of years. The video was built on a soundtrack of environmental soundscapes, field recordings, sound collages, and re-interpretations of the traditional music of central Appalachia. The scope of the project looks into the lives of those living in the U.S, and how old-time music reflects region and history. The process of making Dark Holler involved field visits, field recordings, compiled research and interviews from different individuals and communities in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

David’s projects and fieldwork brings a unique perspective and approach to his courses in drawing, video, and sound in the Art and Art History program:

“I think that I approach my teaching in the same way of approaching fieldwork, through face-to-face interactions and open conversations, allowing students the space to create the work they feel is important to them and work they didn’t know they could create,  encouraging dialogue amongst one another and the communities in which they live in.”

Up next for Never Met a Stranger is the publication of  As Had It, a book of interviews and field recordings from their research in Central Appalachia.

Never Met a Stranger

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