“The Story of Wendell Wilkie Gunn”

Exhibit

Project Director / Professor

University of North Alabama Collier Library

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“The Story of Wendell Wilkie Gunn”

A collaboration between my Introduction to Public History Graduate course and Art Professor Chiong-Yiao Chen’s Art Professional Practices course, this exhibit interprets in narrative and visual form the life and impact of Dr. Wendell Wilkie Gunn - the first African American student to integrate the University of North Alabama in 1963. Art students - Michael Meigs, Peyton Bird, Jessilyn Cooley - and Public History Grad Student - Lauren McKinnon - were the lead student collaborators on this design. Graduate Student team members contributing to the overall project included: Jackie Childress, Tori Clemmons, Julia McGee, and Josh Grigsby.

Photo Credit: Zach Tonkins


“Music of the South & The Natchez Trace”

Co-Author with James Startt

Peloton Magazine, March 2019

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Music of the South & The Natchez Trace

This collaborative article and photo-essay interprets the music history and culture between the Shoals of Alabama and Tupelo, Mississippi. Using the Natchez Trace Parkway as the backbone route, photographer and writer James Startt and I followed a cyclist from Muscle Shoals and Florence to the Elvis birthplace in Tupelo. Along the way we captured the sites, stories, and landscapes that generated some of the most important art and culture in America.


Hidden Spaces of North Alabama

Project Director

Assistant Professor of History / Director of UNA Public History Center

University Of North Alabama

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Hidden Spaces

In recent years, the Florence community and surrounding Shoals region have benefited from high profile events, including Billy Reid’s Shindig, and the Muscle Shoals Feature Documentary Film. This increasing national exposure often results in carefully constructed visual imagery, creating lasting impressions for participants and external observers. While it is too soon to connect these events with a coherent process of identity-formation or change within the Shoals public narrative, it is clear that visual communication forms an important component within such processes. Hidden Spaces is a photo-historical project that seeks to add another layer to this interpretive landscape. A collaboration between the UNA Public History Center, the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area, and photographer Abraham Rowe, Hidden Spaces identifies, displays, and interprets cultural landscapes, built environments, and natural features that highlight the inherent uniqueness and diversity of the greater Shoals region. This project produced two public exhibitions and a digital map.

Images: Abraham Rowe

Poster Design: Michael Meigs


Civil Rights Struggle in the Shoals - National Park Service Grant

Co-Director

Assistant Professor of History / Director of UNA Public History Center

University of North Alabama

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Civil Rights Struggle in the Shoals

In 2018 my colleagues, Dr. Ansley Quiros and Dr. Carrie Barske-Crawford, and I were awarded a National Park Service grant to conduct archival research and oral histories with graduate and undergraduate students, build a content-rich, accessible, and searchable website, and partner with local teachers to incorporate historical civil rights narratives into the public school curriculum.


Nashville Music Archive

Co-Founder

The Nashville Music Archive is a non-Profit media repository of filmed oral history interviews documenting Nashville’s dynamic music culture and history. As a founding member of Nashville's legendary A-Team, Harold Bradley is arguably the most recorded guitar player in history. A towering figure in American music, Bradley played on countless sessions with artists including Elvis, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison and Pee Wee King. With his famous brother, Owen Bradley, Harold started the first music studio on Sixteenth Avenue in Nashville, ushering in the primary infrastructure for what became known as Music Row. He served as President of the Nashville Chapter of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) until 2008, and continued as Vice President of the International AFM until 2010. Harold is the inspiration for the Nashville Music Archive. We conducted this interview in 2012. Harold Bradley passed away in 2019.


Wilson Trade School Historical Marker

Project Director / Researcher / Writer

Director of Communications and Brand Strategy

Wilson, Arkansas

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Wilson Trade School

As part of my work as Director of Communications and Brand Strategy on the revitalization project in Wilson, Arkansas, it was necessary to broaden the public historical narrative of this unique town and surrounding landscape. From 1925 to 1970, this school served as the formal educational opportunity for African American children in Wilson. Funds for the school were raised in 1924/25 by the local African American community, R.E.L Wilson - the town founder, and from the Rosenwald Rural School Project - a fund created by Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington that supported the construction of thousands of schools for African American children throughout the segregated South and Midwest from 1912 to 1932. I worked with the The Wilson Trade Alumni Association, local leadership, and the Wilson Trade Community Center Advisory Committee to re-envision this cultural landscape and produce a historical marker at the site. At the time, only the concrete foundation outline of the original school building remained within a larger spatial context that includes the Wilson Bicentennial Memorial, a ball field, and a Gym Building that was used for community events until falling into disrepair in recent years. This project created an opportunity to publicly commemorate and interpret the important Trade School history, and it initiated a local conversation about transforming the Gym structure into a multipurpose space that will help to bridge all communities in Wilson.

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Delta Empire Documentary Film

Director / Co-Producer

Director of Communications and Brand Strategy - Wilson, Arkansas

Associate Producer: John Faulkner

DP/Edit/Camera: Cole Cassell

Camera/GFX: Kyle Rippey

In my role as Director of Communications and Brand Strategy in Wilson, Arkansas, I directed and co-produced this documentary film to serve as a visual activation of the historical monograph, Delta Empire: Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Agriculture in the New South, by Dr. Jeannie Whayne.


Wilson Renewal Narrative Book

Project Director / Co-Producer

Director of Communications and Brand Strategy

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Wilson Book

As Director of Communications and Brand Strategy for the Wilson, Arkansas revitalization project, I managed the production of two versions of the Wilson Revival Book - visually and narratively describing the historical foundations of this town, while providing a theoretical roadmap for modern revitalization efforts.

Collaborators: Josh Matas/Sandbox Entertainment, Nashville, TN.

Design Sensory/Design Agency, Knoxville, TN.


Wilson Arkansas Primary Website

Project Director / Co-Producer

Director of Communications and Brand Strategy

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Wilson Arkansas Website

To build a content hub and cohesive media presence, I directed and managed the creation of the official Wilson Website. This included all creative content and scripting, from concept to production, and it ensured the creation of owned digital assets for the client moving forward. It was essential to craft an authentic narrative that balanced local perspective and presence with content that advances the Wilson identity for external audiences: www.wilsonarkansas.com

Collaborators: Josh Matas/Sandbox Entertainment, Nashville, TN.

Design Sensory/Design Agency, Knoxville, TN.


Wilson Music Series

Co-Producer

Director of Communications and Brand Strategy

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Wilson Music Series

To build on the foundation of Delta music heritage, I co-produced a music series in Wilson that expanded the revitalization narrative, and brought national artists to town. Our focus was on Americana music, thus leveraging Wilson’s location on the historic Highway 61 and bridging the various styles of blues, rock, country, and bluegrass.

Collaborators: John Faulkner, Wilson Town Manager.

Josh Matas/Sandbox Entertainment, Nashville, TN.

Design Sensory - Poster Design.


White’s Mercantile Wilson Store Launch

Co-Project Director

Director of Communications and Brand Strategy

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White’s Mercantile - Wilson, Arkansas

The renovation of this historic gas station presented a key opportunity to further activate Wilson’s position on historic Highway 61. As co-project director, I worked with Holly Williams (Americana artist, and granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr.) and Josh Matas of Sandbox Entertainment, to launch White’s Mercantile in the renovated gas station. This was the first location for Williams’ store outside Nashville, TN and it reinforced a general association with an Americana and roots narrative, while generating solid media exposure.


Mississippi Encyclopedia

Contributing Author

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Mississippi Encyclopedia

I wrote the article for Highway 61/Blues Highway

Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture

Contributing Author

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Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture

I wrote encyclopedia articles interpreting various facets of Tennessee music history.


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Delta Landscapes

Photo: Brian Dempsey

Mississippi County, Arkansas

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Cotton

Photo: Brian Dempsey

Wilson, Arkansas

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Agricultural Built Environment

Photo: Brian Dempsey

Mississippi County, Arkansas

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Agricultural Built Environment

Photo: Brian Dempsey

Mississippi County, Arkansas

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Agricultural Landscape

Photo: Brian Dempsey

Mississippi County, Arkansas