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Art student hopes to introduce emerging artists across the state

ISSUED: 22 March 2023

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University senior Abigail Bowman is hard at work on her capstone final college project—something she hopes will change the way art and artists are viewed in West Virginia. Bowman is creating ARTtrek, a box trailer turned mobile gallery that will travel the state exhibiting the work of West Virginia artists.

Photo of Abby Bowman standing in front of the Center for Contemporary Art.Bowman, who is from Morgantown, West Virginia, said a comment from one of her professors about how it would be nice to have a mobile art gallery sparked her idea. She will graduate in May, earning a bachelor’s degree in art with a minor in business administration.

“When I was coming around to my capstone, I was trying to think of ways to connect everything,” Bowman said. “I am also very passionate about West Virginia and Appalachia and making our state better and bringing more people into it and bringing a little bit more color to our state. It was just a combination of everything.”

The box trailer is approximately 17 feet long, seven feet wide, and seven feet tall. The outside is decorated with the ARTtrek logo. Her mother’s business, WV Living magazine, is sponsoring the project. Bowman has been busy painting the interior and outfitting it with lighting and the wall hardware needed to hang art.

“It’s pretty basic on the inside but my goal is that the art is the showcase,” she said.

Bowman’s ARTtrek webpage states that the trailer “will literally move through the mountain state, promoting and contemporizing aspects of West Virginia culture and art, and it will provide the public more access to emerging West Virginia artists.”

Bowman works at the Jefferson County West Virginia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau doing marketing. After she graduates, she anticipates ARTtrek will be a part-time passion. She hopes to take the trailer across the state offering exhibits by various artists. Bowman credits the classes she took in both art and business and the experiences she has had at Shepherd with helping her conceive of the project and bring it to fruition.

“I think minoring in business helped me think a little bit more entrepreneurially. It’s helped me with marketing,” she said.

“But also, the art program here on campus does a really good job of teaching business as well,” she added. “We have Professional Practices one and two and they go really in depth. The business program and the business emphasis in the art program is why I chose Shepherd—because they promoted ‘we don’t just teach you how to paint, we teach you how to be an artist after you graduate.’”

Capstone project presentations for the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater are scheduled for the weekends of April 8 and 15. Bowman will have the ARTtrek gallery parked at Alma Bea restaurant, 202 East Washington St., Shepherdstown, the weekend of April 8. It will feature work by her and another student.

Listen to an interview with Abby Bowman here

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