Tom Hansell is an award winning filmmaker and installation artist who lives and works in Appalachian mountains.
Hansell’s documentary films have been broadcast nationally on public television and have screened at international film festivals. His installations have appeared in galleries from California to Vermont. He is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Headlands Center for the Arts, The Southern Humanities Media Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Hansell has taught community media workshops in throughout the U.S as well as in China and Indonesia. He currently teaches at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and has twenty years experience at the Appalshop media arts center in Whitesburg, Kentucky working with students and adults to create media about their communities.
I make media and sculpture rooted in my mountain environment. My projects connect the specific challenges faced by rural Appalachian mountain communities with the universal challenge all humans face as we strive to live in harmony with nature and each other.
My body of work includes a series of documentary films highlighting the fight for environmental and economic justice in the Appalachian coalfields. To address energy policy issues, I have created a series of solar powered video installations that generate their own electricity by pedal power and solar power. My current project explores human interactions with the New River, an ancient river whose unique path winds its way north through Virginia and West Virginia to join the Ohio and then the Mississippi before dispersing into the Gulf of Mexico. The headwaters ecosystems in my community are crucial to protecting water quality, as pollution here affects life many miles downstream.
My artistic practice grows organically from these rural places. Out of necessity, I have developed collaborative techniques to address political and cultural divisions in my community. I hope that my work can bring people together to celebrate common bonds, to discuss differences, and to control the development of our cultures and communities.