Bios are being collected and will be posted as they are received.
Elizabeth M. Stephens is an artist and professor who lives and works in San Francisco, CA. She attended the Boston Museum School as an undergraduate and received her MFA from Rutgers University. She teaches in the Art Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she has also served as chair. Additionally, Stephens is an affiliate of both the Digital Art and New Media Program, and the Women’s Studies Program. In her artistic practice, she is an intermedia artist who makes films, sculpture, video installations, photography, and performance art. Stephens has produced several short experimental films such as Do You Mind?, which first screened at the Frameline Festival in 1993, and Lubba; The Mother Teresa of Art, which has screened in museums and art galleries around the United States. For the past seven years her work has been made in collaboration with her partner, Annie Sprinkle, as the Love Art Laboratory. This collaboration is an artistic response to the anti-gay marriage movement, the ongoing war(s) on terror, and a culture in ecological crises. It has evolved to embrace activism as art and especially environmental activism in the form of large-scale weddings. Stephens and Sprinkle have produced a series of film documentations of these environmental weddings, where they have married various entities (the sky, the sea, the mountains, the moon, rocks, and coal) of their lover, the Earth. Stephens performs, lectures, and creates visual art about love nationally and internationally. For more information about her most recent work, see http://elizabethstephens.org
Annie M. Sprinkle is an internationally acclaimed multi media artist, who has toured her own theater pieces since 1989, performing at prestigious theater festivals, museums and galleries in 19 countries. One of the pivotal players in the 80’s “sex positive feminist movement,” her film, The Sluts & Goddesses Video Workshop Or How to Be A Sex Goddess in 101 Easy Steps, played over 300 international film festivals and art galleries, including the Guggenheim Museum and is considered a women’s sex film classic. Over the last 38 years she’s been involved in many documentary features (Gendernauts, Inside Deep Throat, The Naked Feminist, NY77, Monica Truet’s My Father is Coming), TV shows (four HBO Real Sex segments, Joan Rivers Show, The Sexual Revolution on the History Channel). Sprinkle has appeared in half a dozen B movies. She started out in 90+ x-rated feature films in the 70’s and 80’s. Her film Annie Sprinkle’s Herstory of Porn, is a self-produced feature about her experiences in the porn industry. It played at Montreal Film Festival, Santa Barbara Film Festival, Frameline, and dozens of others. Her multi-media art projects, favorably reviewed in the New York Times, are currently dedicated to exploring ecology, helping to make the world a more sustainable, love-filled, and compassionate place. She has a Ph.D. in human sexuality, and got a bachelors of Fine Art at School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. She also does video installations in museums and galleries about love, breast cancer, and eco-themed weddings, in collaboration with her life partner Elizabeth Stephens. For more information about her most recent work, see http://anniesprinkle.org
Keith Wilson-Editoris a filmmaker, cinematographer and visual-artist based in San Francisco and Austin, Texas. His documentaries The Shrimp, When the Light’s Red, Southern FamilyandLesbian Grandmothers From Mars have broadcast on PBS stations, cable television and in numerous festivals including the Berlin, London, South by Southwest and New York Underground Film Festivals and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He has an MFA in film production from the University of Texas-Austin where he was an Instructor in the Department of Radio-TV-Film.
Jordan Freeman,Cinematographer has been documenting stories throughout Appalachia for the last five years. He was the primary videographer for Coal Country, and followed that up with Low Coal, for which he received the Michael Moore award from the Cinema Verde Film Festival. Freeman’s work often gives the viewer a sense not just of what is happening, but what it is like for the people experiencing the events in the film. His goal is to “give a voice to the oppressed,” and this goal has taken him to mine sites and the communities in which they are situated throughout Appalachia, and as far away as La Guajira, Colombia, the site of the Western Hemisphere’s largest surface mine. Freeman’s work has also been featured in a variety of documentaries, including The Last Mountain and The Greenhorns. In addition to feature films and television specials, Freeman has created more than 60 YouTube videos for a variety of groups and organizations. Most recently, he coordinated the volunteer video team covering the march on Blair Mountain, which produced seven short videos in seven days. He is currently working to develop an online media strategy for Coal River Mountain Watch, one of the primary groups working to end MTR mining in West Virginia. Freeman grew up in Los Angeles, CA, and graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2005, with a degree in Community Studies. For more information, see http://www.lowcoal.com/
Julia Reardin, Assistant Editor and Line Producerhas recently graduated from the film department at UCSC. She works as a research assistant for Artist and Professor Elizabeth Stephens. Julia’s main focus is narrative film and film production. For three years, she worked as the director’s assistant for the Ann Arbor Film Festival in Michigan. She was also a production assistant for three years at WTIU/PBS in Bloomington, IN. Additionally, Julia has worked as a camp assistant at Voglesang High Sierra Camp as well as in the bar at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. Currently, Julia is creating a digital art project entitled, I’ll Be Your Avatar. You can view this project and more at: http://www.juliareardin.com
Hannah Matzner, Animation- was born in April in a town occupied more by cows than by people. When she was merely a few months old, Hannah’s parents moved her and the family five hours south to Los Angeles. For the next 18 years, Hannah traipsed around the city, drawing on sidewalks in chalk, having adventures in the city’s hidden little corners, getting caught in traffic jams, spending a surprising amount of time working with power tools, and enjoying the sunshine. At 18, Hannah picked up and headed back to the cows. However, after two years of studying English Literature at UC Davis, Hannah decided she had a different dream to follow. She packed her things, moved to Santa Cruz and began painting. Constantly. She recently graduated from UCSC with a BA in Fine Arts.
David B. Steinberg, Original Music and Sound Design, is an accomplished musician and composer. Born in Philadelphia, he fashioned his early career in music as a studio session drummer in Los Angeles. Educated at Cal State Northridge, The Dick Grove Music School, and USC, David started his composition career writing music for advertising. Since then, he has composed music for networks including ABC, HBO, MTV, A&E, CNN and BRAVO. Steinberg has also composed for large scale, site-specific venues including Las Vegas’ award winning FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE and Beijing’s, THE PLACE. David currently lives, works and hangs in Hollywood, CA. http://www.davidbsteinberg.com
Tony’s Circushttp://www.tonykingscircus.com Tony’s Circus composed the amazing, “Let’s All Be Keepers of the Mountain” for Larry Gibson and performed it at the Purple Wedding, to the Appalachian Mountains, in Athens, Ohio November 201o.
Joan Jeanrenaud is a world-renowned cellist, surely the best known in the avant-garde classical field. She spent 20 years playing with the groundbreaking string quartet, the Kronos Quartet, recording with it over 30 albums and performing more than 2,000 concerts. In 1999, she left the group for a solo career that has encompassed performance art, composition, and free improvisation.
Jeanrenaud grew up on a small farm outside Memphis, TN. The third child of a family not particularly inclined to music, she began playing cello at age 11. A year later she was studying with Peter Spurbeck. Quickly she developed a special interest in contemporary music. She went to Indiana University, where she worked with Fritz Magg and co-founded the IU Contemporary Music Ensemble. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree and spent 1977 in Geneva, Switzerland, to take private lessons from famous cellist Pierre Fournier.
Upon her return home in 1978, her friend and Indiana University alumnus Hank Dutt encouraged her to audition for the cello spot in Kronos Quartet. David Harrington’s group, founded in 1973, had just moved its headquarters from Seattle to San Francisco, and violist Dutt had become their newest member. Jeanrenaud was asked to join and stayed with the quartet for two decades. During this period, the group changed its demeanor from that of a classical string quartet to an avant-garde outfit performing in casual settings with something of a maverick attitude on the side.
In 1998, Jeanrenaud took a one-year leave of absence from the group. She announced her official departure the next summer (her replacement was Jennifer Culp). Remaining in the field of avant-garde and experimental music, she has explored about every possible field her busy schedule with Kronos had kept her from. Her first solo concerts included works by Fluxus composers (Christian Wolff, Charlotte Moorman), and collaborations with dancers (Molissa Fenley, Anna Halprin). Her first non-Kronos recording was Lou Harrison’s Rhymes With Silver (New Albion, 2000).
A residency at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts during the 2000/2001 season allowed her to try new things, like duetting with a computer (Mark Grey’s “Blood Red”), multimedia performance (a cello arrangement of Philip Glass’ “Metamorphosis” with video projections), and even composition. In 2001, she entered the free improvisation scene under the wing of guitarist Fred Frith. She performed and recorded with his trio Maybe Monday, as well as with many more. Jeanrenaud says about her work, “I am interested in not only the sound world my instrument can inhabit but also the visual and conceptual presentation of the music.” http://www.jjcello.org
Hazel Jane Dickens (June 1, 1935 – April 22, 2011) was an American bluegrass singer, songwriter, double bassist and guitarist. Her music was characterized not only by her high, lonesome singing style, but also by her provocative pro-union, feminist songs. Cultural blogger John Pietaro noted that “Dickens didn’t just sing the anthems of labor, she lived them and her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause.” The New York Times extolled her as “a clarion-voiced advocate for coal miners and working people and a pioneer among women in bluegrass music.” With Alice Gerrard, Dickens was one of the first women to record a bluegrass album. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazel_Dickens
Larry Gibson (1946-20012) was a founding leader of the movement to stop MTR. Mountaintop removal is the process by which a mountaintop is blown up and dumped into the surrounding valleys to mine seams of coal. MTR is an incredibly destructive form of strip coal mining that has already destroyed more than a million acres and buried over 1,200 miles of streams across Central Appalachia. It is killing people in surrounding communities as residents report much higher rates of birth defects and cancer. Gibson saw this threat long before it became nationally known and began his work to protect his mountains more than two decades ago.
In 2004, he founded the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation to educate and inspire people to work for healthier, more sustainable communities and bring an end to MTR. The Foundation has successfully protected fifty acres from mining activity through the Stanley Heirs Park, an incredible accomplishment in the face of a coal industry that runs roughshod over West Virginia communities and politics.
He is also committed to building new leaders to expand community power in the coalfield region, as well as developing leadership within his family to ensure the continued protection of Kayford Mountain, where he lives. Kayford Park, atop its peak, is the primary location for people, organizations, political leaders, and funders to see mountaintop removal first hand. Since this land was successfully saved, visitors have included WV Senator Joe Manchin, UMWA President Cecil Roberts, NRDC spokesman Robert Kennedy, current Young Democrats of America President Rod Snyder, country singers Kathy Matthea and Big Kenny, and tens of thousands of others. The continuing protection of this land is critical to ensure the growth of the success of the anti-MTR movement. As he says, “Our mothers give us birth, but the mountains give us life.” Larry passed away on Kayford Mountain on September 2012. http://mountainkeeper.org
Carol Gibson is a native West Virginian, currently Larry Gibson’s partner and member of the board of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation. Carol loves the mountains; she says, “I always played in the hills when I was a little girl. I have a brother and sister and we used to climb the hills behind our house in Carbon, West Virginia. We would sometimes take a jar of ice-cold water or Kool-aid and stay out all day. Sometimes we would hunt beachnuts and take a tin pie pan and put them in it and sit and eat nuts and drink our Kool-aid. My dad worked for Carbon Fuel Company, and they would blast sometimes and rocks would fly down the hillside and onto our porch. Sometimes it would go into our home, living room and bedrooms. We would have to shovel the mud out of our house and off the porch. It would leave our house smelling like sulphur. They would dump big piles of slate in big heaps really high. Sometimes we would take old cardboard boxes and climb to the top of these slate dumps and slide down. When it would rain it would add oxygen to the dump and it would start smoking and the air would smell like sulphur and sometimes catch back up on fire and we would watch it flame up and burn. We were not aware of any danger at that time but I am sure we inhaled enough sulphur to kill us. I sure would not let my grandson play on such a pile of smoke and sulpher. I would love to see the mountains come back pretty and green and high the way God intended them to be. I used to like to go to the mountains to pray too. It seemed like God was surely in my midst when I would kneel beside an old rock and pray. I could really feel his presence all around me. I will never forget those days, and I am sure because sometimes I do go out on Kayford Mountain and seek God’s presence and He is always there to meet me.”
Paul Corbit Brown is a photographer and educator, passionately committed to producing images that further the goals of human rights, social justice, and environmental responsibility. A native West Virginian – born, raised, and currently living in the coalfields of southern West Virginia – he discovered photography at the age of 12 and through this discovery, became the first male in his family to escape working as a coal miner. Because of his concern for the environment, he has lived in a house “off-the-grid” for nearly seven years. For nearly 15 years, he has been fighting to raise awareness about, and ultimately stop the devastation of mountain top removal (MTR) coal mining in Appalachia. He has photographed other humanitarian and environmental issues throughout the United States, Mexico, Kenya, Jamaica, Russia, Israel, Laos, Thailand, Rwanda, Indonesia, Haiti and Northern Iraq with significant gallery exhibitions in Washington D.C.; Baltimore, MD; Columbus, OH; Minneapolis, MN; and West Virginia. His projects serve as a remembrance – so that time and history don’t diminish the true depth of the horrific injustices – and as a call to action for positive transformation. The work inspires people to ask, “What can I do to change this?” See http://paulcorbitbrown.com
T. Paige Dalporto is an award-winning poet, photographer, songwriter and anti-MTR activist. He has been writing songs since 1973 and his work focuses on the issues that face Appalachia. He lives in West Virginia, where he was born. He says, “Here in West Virginia, our mountains and our land, and thus our people are being destroyed at an alarming rate by the worst man-made environmental disaster in human history. I have joined with other West Virginians to call for an end to Mountain Top Removal, a deadly form of mining: deadly to the environment, deadly to the planet. I use my music to call attention to the devastation, even as more and more people realize that what affects the health of Appalachia on such a massive scale will eventually affect every individual’s health and the health of the planet.” Judy Bonds, the late, great environmental activist and fearless critic of MTR has been a big influence on T. Paige’s work. To learn more, go towww.tpaige.com
Benny Key (1948-2011) former pianist and music director of the Chruch of Stop Shopping Choir, with Revernd Billy. Benny Key improvised a beautiful version of the West Virginia Hills for our wedding to the Appalachian Mountains in Athens, Ohio. Benny was an incredibly talented musician who worked in innumerable shows in our community, with Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir as well as on Broadway. Benny passed away at his home in Huntington, WV on March 25, 2011.
Bryan Martens Bryan Martens is a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher from Madison County, nearby Winterset, Iowa. He is an accomplished musician, and is currently the choir Director and Organist at Zion Lutheran Church also in Des Moines. Bryan maintains a computer based recording studio of his own, and is also an accomplished recording engineer. He has released two CD’s, one of classical piano recordings, and is currently releasing a “piano with ensemble” CD. Among many honored animal guests on his farm is his basement skunk “Skunky”. http://www.bryanmartens.com
Catherine Moore aka Rainbow Jeremy is writer in residence at the Beckwith Halfway House & Creek Enjoyment Center. She is busy collecting chestnuts and small wood for the stove. Catherine also works as a journalist.
Rich Reardin is a radio producer, audio engineer, Flash animator, graphic artist, cartoonist, and web designer living in Bloomington, IN. Rich’s father was lifelong friends with Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg’s subsequent life and work helped to inspire Rich’s longtime interest in Buddhism, the arts, poetry, literature, and music. Rich is now creator and executive producer of a nationally syndicated radio series, “In Search of a Song,” with Jason Wilber (John Prine’s longtime lead guitarist), about the lives and music of world-class songwriters, which is available on the Public Radio Exchange. He is also the creator of a comic strip called “What N’ Where? The Adventures of Cosmic Tom.” Growing up in the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania, Rich was inspired to help in creating a website for Coal Country, which can be seen on the Discovery Network Planet Green. See www.insearchofasong.com
Jack Spadaro Spadaro is an environmental expert on mine safety and health. He has dedicated his life to preventing environmental damage from coal mining activities and is among the nation’s leading experts on coal waste disposal. Jack was a young engineer and instructor at West Virginia University’s School of Mines, one of the world’s top institutions for training mining engineers, when the 1972 Buffalo Creek, WV, disaster occurred. “Right then,” he says, “I made a pledge to dedicate my life to doing whatever I could to prevent this type of thing from happening again.” He has since spent nearly 38 years in public service, safeguarding coal miners and their communities from life-threatening environmental and health and safety hazards caused by mining operations. For more information, see http://jackspadaro.com/
Vivian Stockman Stockman is project coordinator for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC). With a degree in Environmental Communications, she is one of the premiere photographers of the apocalyptic landscapes created by mountain top removal. A volunteer for OVEC since 1995, she was hired full-time in 2000. Since then, her essays about MTR and coal sludge impoundments have been published in Plundering Appalachia (which features dozens of Vivian’s shots, including the cover) and in The Appalachians, a companion book to the PBS TV series. Her op-eds have appeared in numerous newspapers and websites, and she has assisted with, consulted for and been filmed for documentaries including Burning the Future and Sludge. Her photographs have been extensively published in publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Monthly, Orion magazine, World Watch magazine. They have also been exhibited in colleges and have appeared on the NASA Earth Observatory site:: http://earthobservatory,nasa.gov/Study/MountaintopRemoval.
Occasionally Vivian will foray into street theatre events as the dreaded “King Coal.”
Stephanie Tyree is a native of Charleston, WV. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Philosophy and Fiction Writing, and received a J.D. from New York University School of Law, with a concentration in environmental justice, critical race theory and environmental poverty lawyering. She worked for two years as the Environmental Policy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice in New York City, focusing on climate justice and energy. She then moved back to her home state to work on MTR and coal slurry issues with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC). While with OVEC, Stephanie realized the great need for lawyers working for community health and empowerment in the Appalachian coalfields. She plans to take the State Bar and begin practicing as an environmental torts attorney advocating for community health and safety in West Virginia.
Sarah Vekasi, M.Div. is the director of the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative, where she provides support to communities fighting MTR coal mining. She developed the idea of eco-chaplaincy after engaging in direct action and community organizing for many years in the Northwest, living in a Zen monastery in Japan, and completing a Master of Divinity degree from Naropa University in 2008. She grew up in Montana and Maine and currently lives in Swannanoa, NC. Sarah loves wild and rural places, is a potter and a quilter.See www.ecochaplaincy.org