MFA Exhibition Focusing on Deckers Creek Watershed Open March
22 March 2014
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– WVU Master of Fine Arts candidate Forrest
Conroy will present his MFA thesis exhibition, focusing on the
Deckers Creek Watershed, at the Creative Arts Center during March
Titled “Watershed: A Call to Action,” the graphic design project
will be on view in the Paul Mesaros Gallery. An opening reception
for the exhibition will be held Thursday, March 27 at 6 p.m. All
events are free and open to the public.
The goal of Conroy’s exhibition is to educate visitors and
challenge people to see how their personal actions are connected
to the health of their environment. The cornerstone project of his
thesis work is CreekDog, a web application that allows citizens to
report and track serious pollution issues throughout the Deckers
Deckers Creek is a tributary of the Monongahela River flowing from
Preston County into Monongalia County, W.Va. Native Americans
lived and hunted in the area for thousands of years before the
first European settlers arrived, but the stream is named for the
European family that settled at its mouth in the spring of 1758
near present-day Morgantown.
Industries that used the creek as a source of water power included
a forge and iron furnace, grist mills, saw mills, and a pottery
and a paper mill. Rapid industrialization in the first half of the
20th century took a heavy toll on the once-pristine creek, as
water quality declined and aquatic life diminished. Recreational
fishing and boating on the creek eventually ceased after acid mine
runoff and open sewage fouled the water.
Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC), a community non-profit watershed
association, organized in 1995 to start clean-ups of illegal dumps
and to monitor water quality. In 1998, the state Department of
Environmental Protection and federal Natural Resources
Conservation Service committed $10 million to clean up acid mine
drainage in the Deckers Creek Watershed, an effort that continues
to be guided by FODC.
Conroy’s project was developed in partnership with Friends of
Deckers Creek and is based on their Watershed Bill of Rights
Program that calls citizens to take action. CreekDog takes this
one step further by providing a tool that facilitates action
between citizens and the public agencies responsible for
addressing these issues.
“It is important that we find ways to educate and empower citizens
to take an active role in protecting their environment and
bettering their communities,” Conroy said. “The story of Deckers
Creek is one of both immense beauty and complex environmental
issues. People want to help and do the right thing. Many people
either don’t know there’s a problem, or, if they do, don’t know
how to solve it—but everyone plays a part. I hope that this
exhibition helps to create an opportunity for people to make a
Conroy holds a bachelor of arts degree in graphic design from Penn
State University and has more than 12 years of professional
experience in graphic design. Since 2007, he has been the graphics
project coordinator in the WVU Office of University Relations. His
responsibilities include the production, art direction, and design
of various University branding, marketing, and recruitment
campaign materials. His work encompasses different types of media
and platforms, including environmental signage, large print-run
magazines and national television spots.
“My work at the University has given me the opportunity to
collaborate with a talented creative team to produce award-winning
campaigns that market and promote a 21st century land-grant
institution,” he said.
He has continued this collaborative approach throughout his
graduate work. “I wanted to connect the idea of ‘teamwork’ with
the work I did with FODC and with feedback and collaboration with
various experts and community members,” he said. “In pursuit of my
master’s degree, I’ve been able to combine my passion for design
with my love of the outdoors.”
The CreekDog project is being funded, in part, by a grant from the
Appalachian stewardship foundation.
The Mesaros Galleries are open Monday through Saturday, from noon
to 9:30 p.m.
For more information on the event, contact Robert Bridges, curator
of the Mesaros Galleries at 304-293-2312.