Oof yeah it's kind of a long one this time actually, you can look at this email in your browser later, just bump it over to a new tab so you can go back to your overflowing inbox...

I wrote and published a book.


“An example of the best impulses of people’s history.”

My book finally became "real" when WVU Press released it this past March. I could say a lot about the process of pulling this book together, which involved walking a long road of research, interviews, historical detective work, and building out the story of Appalachian Movement Press so I could tell everyone about it. Hell, even the copy editing was kind of fun. But, basically, I'm just so damn proud. Writing a history book wasn't something I'd ever thought I would be asked to do.

The subject is a niche within a niche, perhaps, but I think I made a fantastic story out of what the activists at Appalachian Movement Press were willing to share with me. That is, at least, what friends who have read the book have told me. And the folks at West Virginia University Press were kind, patient, and incredibly accommodating to work with. They made the book look incredible, every part of it shines and it even has a bit of a heft to it!

Here's a round-up of reviews! If you've already read it, would you be so kind as to write a review on Goodreads (or anywhere really)? Want me to come do a reading, in person or online? I'm into that. Does your library have a copy of the book? If not, ask them to order it! Is your local bookstore carrying it? They should be!
Get the Book!
Hot Tip: if you wanna save a few bucks, WVU Press is having a 30% off sale on all titles right now!
You can grab a copy of the book here and use the coupon code SUMMERREADS

We expanded a People's History museum.


So Much To Be Angry About took a lot of time and focus in 2019 (and into the editing and permissions process in 2020), but redesigning and rebuilding the expanded West Virginia Mine Wars Museum was my biggest work in 2020. When I stop and think about this museum, the people I work with, the stories we're telling, the successes we've already had since 2015, I'm so ridiculously proud of what we're doing.

We're open to the public again, and I hope you'll be able to make the trip to Matewan to see what we've done. Why not come at the end of the summer? There's a LOT happening around the Battle of Blair Mountain Centennial that you might not want to miss!

Until you can make the drive, check out the new website that I rebuilt for the museum. And have a look at our first online exhibit, Selections From The Museum, which I pulled together from the huge artifact collection cataloging project that I dove into this winter with our director Kenzie New-Walker, historian Chuck Keeney, and photographer Roger May.

Starting in July, I'm photographing + cataloging the results of several archaeological digs that happened on the Blair Mountain battlefield, which will be available in an online exhibition this fall. These important digs happened 2006-09 and were critical to our understanding of the guerilla war that engulfed the southern West Virginia mountains in 1921. This stuff has been sitting in storage boxes ever since it was unearthed, so it's pretty exciting to be charged with bringing this all to the public. As I'm sorting through these artifacts and getting ready to work with them, I've been marinating on another (smaller) writing project...
Support the Museum!

Fauna: exhibit announcement!

We've always meant to release Fauna into it's ideal habitat, a natural history museum, where this interactive penny smashing machine could thrive in context with exhibits from the museum's collections that dig into the questions our project asks participants to consider about extinction, adaptation, and the non-human parts of the ecosystems we depend on.

Right now I'm beyond excited, as long-time collaborator Stuart Anderson and I are ironing out a contract and some other next-step details to bring this (very) long-term collaborative project to the public, finally! We've finally found an institution that understands what we want to do and is excited to collaborate with us. At the end of 2021, Fauna will debut at the Carnegie Natural History Museum (Pittsburgh) in the Hall of North American Wildlife! More details coming soon...

The Redacted Rubbings project: what's next?

The current portfolio of Redacted Rubbings has just returned in their Very Big Tube (VBT) from an exhibition in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Now I'm searching for new venues to exhibit one or more pieces from this project, or perhaps the entire portfolio. Are you part of an arts organization that is taking applications for new exhibitions in 2021-22? Know of a place that I should reach out to? Let's talk!

The ideal scenario for any exhibition of this project involves not only the finished pieces hung on a gallery wall, but myself traveling to the venue and performing some local rubbings to include in the show. Have Tyvek paper, crayons, vest and ladder: will travel.

New handmade prints at Justseeds.

This winter I made time to sit down and carve more wood and linoleum blocks, and I'm working towards some balance in style using my platen press to make multi-colored prints that aren't fussy about registration, etc. Using this kind of press for hand-carved work has its challenges. I'm enjoying keeping it small, and maybe I'll go smaller soon -- lately I've been looking at wood engraving printing techniques! Meanwhile I also have a few new Risograph prints available, courtesy of longtime friend and fellow Justseeds artist Mary Tremonte and her new EZ390 Risograph machine!

All of my new print work is available through Justseeds Artists' Cooperative, where we've been happily running our own independent, cooperatively-owned online shop (and much more) since 2007.
Shop Prints at Justseeds!

Exhibits + Presentations that happened:

A lot that I had on my plate for 2020 was canceled, a lot happened online, a lot was postponed! So it goes. Some nice opportunities came through while we all reconfigured what, exactly, was even possible:
  • “Compass Roses: Maps by Artists”, curated by Nadine Wasserman & Renee Piechocki, for the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, was a great chance for me to draw again.
  • “Make Ready for the Revolution!” was a really nicely curated online group exhibition hosted by Zygote Press in Cleveland, OH
  • and most recently “The Strike Was Broken: Redacted Historical Marker Rubbings” was exhibited (in an actual gallery!) at University of Wisconsin Parkside, Kenosha, WI
One nice thing I discovered about doing online presentations was that I could relax a little since I wasn't standing in front of a group. I did a lot of these in the last year, highlights included:
  • Last Thursday I was the guest on the WV Mine Wars Museum's regular Mine Wars Forum interviews, speaking with historian/museum board member/exhibit collaborator Chuck Keeney.
  • Dana Sperry and I presented about our work during this year's Working-Class Studies Association annual conference just a couple of weeks ago.
  • Nicolas Lampert brought me into the Artists Now! series at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee last fall.
  • I had a great conversation about my book with author Renee Nicholson for the new Short Talks video series at the Humanities Center at West Virginia University.
  • I was on a panel called "Monuments Matter" for the American Society for Aesthetics conference along with Michele Moody-Adams, Gary Shapiro, and Sandow Birk.
  • ...and I just finished a great online WVU author event with Pittsburgh local White Whale Books, alongside Renée K. Nicholson, Geoffrey Hilsabeck, and Deesha Philyaw! Watch for an in-person reading at this bookstore in the fall...
I'm happy to present about pretty much anything I'm currently working on, live or on video, so drop me a line!
Meanwhile, I've pretty much only been reading science fiction for a couple of years --  a lot of early Ursula LeGuin, scads of M. John Harrison and currently Anne Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy (which is excellent). As for nonfiction though, Dan Hicks' The Brutish Museums is a much needed, nothing-held-back critique of the role of the museum NOW, specifically focusing on ethnographic museums as agents of colonialism. If you don't have time for the whole book, or just need convincing, try this excellent review by Travis Diehl: "The Museum Shoots Twice". I'm happy to give or take any recommendations!
Even if you didn't read this whole thing (and, I admit, there's a lot to catch up on here), I thank you earnestly for your support of my work. Stay in touch, please.
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me @ justseeds me @ justseeds
Send postcards:
Shaun Slifer
4078 Howley Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

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