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New River Gorge Creative Residency expands; Thomas artist awarded

Since 2015 the New River Gorge Creative Residency has afforded writers and artists the unique opportunity to live and work at Lafayette Flats Boutique Vacation Rentals in Fayetteville.

In past years a singular resident has been chosen but this winter, three creatives have been awarded the residency.

By tripling the number of residency recipients, and by selecting all West Virginia based creatives, Lafayette Flats co-owners Amy McLaughlin and Shawn Means aim to highlight and celebrate the diverse artistic talent thriving throughout the Mountain State.

“We are excited to expand the New River Gorge Creative Residency,” says Lafayette Flats Managing Partner Amy McLaughlin. “As our vacation rental business grows, our support for the creative class grows with it, and slowly but surely we are helping to create a fresh narrative for West Virginia.”

The New River Gorge Creative Residency is designed to provide creatives with a beautiful space to develop their skills while devoting uninterrupted time to a particular project. The winners of this year’s New River Gorge Creative Residency are Matt Browning, Carly Thaw and Kimberly Trathen.

Matt Browning of South Charleston has been awarded the December residency.

Browning is a writer whose first book, “Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia,” a celebration of the Mountain State’s independent bookstores, will be released in January. Next spring, he will also release a children’s picture book about urban farming titled “Chicks and the City.” For the residency, Browning will develop a new work of fiction about a jaded young gay man who visits his estranged mother’s Appalachian mountain village and becomes enamored by the town’s unusual charm.

Carly Thaw of Charleston has been awarded the January residency.

Thaw is an illustrator and writer drawn to our earth’s natural landscapes. She enjoys learning the stories of the people who call those places home: learning how identity is influenced by landscape. For the residency, Thaw will create illustrated essays about growing up in the outdoor community of West Virginia. Themes of independence, personal strength/agency, and grit will flow through the essays which will be accompanied by watercolor and pen illustrations on paper.

Kimberly Trathen of Thomas has been awarded the February residency.

Trathen is a contemporary textile artist, as well as the sole operator and designer of Backstitched Design, a small design studio creating vintage-inspired functional and modern bags and accessories from recycled leather coats and second-hand materials. For the residency, Trathen will explore new themes in her work and expand into other textile-based mediums. She is particularly interested in the concept of Mending and the artform of Wrapping in the style of textile artist, Judith Scott.

A reception for the New River Gorge Creative Residency recipients will take place Jan. 16 at The Grove in Fayetteville. All three creatives will be in attendance to discuss and show their work. The reception is open to the public.

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