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Thaddeus "Specs" Dixon

Circa 1932

The Thaddeus Dixon Preservation Project, explores the ideas of roleplaying, curating, fabricating, and display. The figure that embodies this project is Thaddeus D. Dixon whom was born March 18, 1871 in West Virginia’s Greenbrier Valley. He is best described as an Appalachian native, artist, explorer, novice scholar, and a sedulously curious individual. After selling his family land to a railroad company, Dixon moved his family to Hominy Falls, West Virginia where he spent his time exploring nature and the social environment of his community. This collection of objects is a select glimpse into his findings. 


Exploring Dixon’s discoveries, I notice parallel interests that we share. Both Dixon and I are interested in the social makeup of our communities, but we view them through different historical perspectives. Likewise, “King Coal” occupies a pervasive position, justifying continued investigation. This body of work reveals our shared enquiries. The context of the objects suggests a larger story, creating a critical commentary on the influence of the coal industry on the Appalachian region. Viewers can also observe the collection through the eyes of Thaddeus Dixon, giving them a period perspective. The region and its art contain a rich history of local community, social commentary, and pursuit of social justice. All of this speaks to the varied hardships, stories, and traditions ofAppalachia. Although celebrated for its natural beauty and defined by its regional boundaries, Appalachia is best described through the narratives of its inhabitants. The Thaddeus Dixon Preservation Project contributes to that narrative. 

-Kirsten Sadler


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