Art Makes Columbus (2016)
In October, 2016, I contributed to Art Makes Columbus, a series of artist-written statements about their practice and about living in Columbus, Ohio. To see the statement on their site, along with other artists, click here.
I grew up in Westerville, and my parents have deep family roots in southeastern Ohio, in Perry County. My favorite memory from childhood is walking in my grandfather’s orchard in Junction City, picking and eating apples until my stomach hurt. In 1998, I moved to London to study music composition. After finishing, my teacher there encouraged me to come back to Ohio; he thought I might thrive better here than anywhere else. Even though I wanted to stay in London, I knew that he was right, so I moved back. I never forgot his advice. I’ve often felt pretty lost since then. Slowly, I built a creative voice here. I started working with local and regional sound archives, and the communities connected to them. In 2010, I began to visit, record, and write about Shawnee, a town in Appalachian Ohio, where my mom’s family emigrated to as coal miners in the 1870s. I did a lot of listening––to people and places––and made a piece called “Shawnee, Ohio” that traces the history of mining and energy extraction in the region. Now, I am performing this music for audiences in Ohio (including in Shawnee) and around the country. I feel compelled to honor the voices of the people that have lived and worked in Shawnee, to share their stories, and to add my voice in solidarity to those working as stewards of their own places.
- Brian Harnetty