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Appalachian Cultural Center to host “Mr. Coffindaffer’s Crosses” gallery talk, Nov. 13

Dr. David J. Pittenger

(Oct. 30, 2018) – Carson-Newman University’s Appalachian Cultural Center will present a gallery talk by Dr. David J. Pittenger about his photographic exhibit, ‘Mr. Coffindaffer’s Crosses: A Study of Public Art’, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.

The collection is currently on exhibit at the Center through Nov. 13.

The exhibit features the landscapes of West Virginia and specifically the Coffindaffer Crosses – three large crucifixes built from utility poles found at 1,900 ‘Calvary sites’ located in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia.

In 1984, West Virginia native Bernard L. Coffindaffer claimed to hear a divine calling to create what he called Calvary sites. After selling his business, he spent the rest of his life and financial resources to build and raise crucifixes from utility poles.

Appalachian Cultural Center Director Dr. Jennifer Hall said, “Dr. Pittenger’s work honors not only the legacy of Bernard Coffindaffer, but of the families who continue to maintain his Calvary sites. The photos invite us to explore in powerful, unique ways what such sites reveal about the Appalachian people and cultures in which they exist.”

Carson-Newman Photography Professor David Underwood added, “Dr. David Pittenger’s photographs of Bernard Coffindaffer’s crosses explore a unique aspect of the American Appalachian landscape. With careful attention to perspective, composition, and context, Pittenger’s photographs reveal depths of culture, history, and a meaningful sense of place.”

Pittinger, an experimental psychologist and academic administrator at Marshall University, has been studying and photographing the crosses since 2015. He considers the sites to not only have religious significance but as forms of public art.

Gallery hours for the exhibit are: Mondays from 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.; Tuesdays from 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Wednesdays from 1p.m. – 4 p.m.; and, Thursday from 1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.

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