Elaine Sheldon and McDowell County residents installed a 14-window photo exhibition in downtown Welch to celebrate #WVDay and two years since HOLLOW documentary was released. The exhibit was designed by Megan Bullock of Mesh Design. Photos by Elaine Sheldon, Alan Johnston, Melissa Green, Renee Bolden and Brenda Goodson. Thanks to Crystal and Jeff (owners of the G.C. Murphy Building) for collaborating on this public art project. Photos of the installation by Melissa Green.


It’s been two years since we released HOLLOW, an interactive documentary that features over 30 residents living in McDowell County. Many of the people and quotes in this photo exhibit, which express what people want to see change in the county, are seen and heard in the documentary. The film is meant to draw attention to what is happening in Southern West Virginia from a local perspective, rather than an outsider’s view. During the summer, the Hollow team held workshops where they met with residents at Mount View High School and talked about the obstacles facing the county.

During our meetings, residents talk about the things they wanted to see come to McDowell: a fitness and community center, better roads and infrastructure, reliable tap water and clean creeks, access to drug treatment facilities, more jobs, better housing, artist studios, community gardens, a diversified economy, and new leadership, among many other things.

Some believe history and tourism is the answer; others believe in local food and farming. But the answer to the many challenges McDowell County faces isn’t just one thing, it’s many things.

At the center of change for McDowell are the people. Individuals that ultimately decide that what’s happening around them, isn’t enough for them. They want more for their children and future generations. They respect their history and tradition, but are open to new and innovative ideas to growing their economy and improving the quality of life for everyone. They want to improve their corner of the world, and in turn inspire others to do the same.

PRESS: WV town’s story appears on storefront exhibit