Artist’s NameCasey Murano
Address5508 Ingleside Drive
Roanoke 24018
United States
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Instagram Handle (if any)@caseymuranoart
Website (if any)
Tell us about you, the artist. Please include a few sentences of biographical information.

I grew up in the Roanoke Valley and continue deepening my connection with the Blue Ridge Mountains. Currently, I live in Summers County, West Virginia at an intentional Catholic community called Bethlehem Farm. My daily work includes leading service retreats and low-income home repair projects, and my art practice reflects the cyclical processes and rhythms of this place in the Appalachian Mountains. In 2021, I graduated from the University of Richmond with a B.A. in Visual and Media Arts Practice. After college, I completed a year of service with the St. Joseph Worker Program in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since then, I have been leading workshops and sharing my work regionally, including at the Alderson Artisans Gallery, Riverviews Artspace, Art on 1st, the Fine Art Center of the New River Valley, and Second Street Gallery. In 2023, I developed an Interfaith Art Project supported by an Art Matters Grant from the Roanoke Arts Commission, and I recently was awarded a Professional Development Grant from the West Virginia Department of Arts, History, and Culture Grant. This October, I have my first solo show at the Bower Art Center in Bedford, VA.

Please describe your artistic practice including the media you work in and your approach to your art.

I view and experience art making as a process of personal and collective transformation. My work includes commitment to place and spiritual practice, so pilgrimage–the sacred journey through a landscape–is a theme that shows up a lot in what I am making and how I talk about my work. Like someone on pilgrimage, I try to lean into the discomfort of not knowing where I’m going; trust in the power of community, practice deep listening, contemplation, and wonder; and keep showing up to each day with as deep of presence possible. I seek to be open and ready to respond and reflect. Sometimes, as I am creating an image, I see something that reminds me of an image from years earlier. Learning to notice recurring cycles and patterns gives me the affirmation I need to keep going on this creative journey.

I primarily create works on paper in a variety of scales. Sometimes I make a bunch of tiny drawings on scrap papers. Other times, I pull out a big sheet of stonehenge paper scaled to my body. Colored pencil, water-soluble crayon, watercolor, and ballpoint pen are some of my favorite things to draw with, though I like experimenting with found materials and have a long term vision of learning more about natural pigments.

I am committed to sustainability – both how can I cultivate a creative practice that I can sustain over a lifetime? and how do I satisfy the need to create while walking gently on this earth and not falling for or perpetuating the false narratives of business as usual/consumerism/capitalism/white supremacy, etc.? I am figuring out what energizes me and then asking, what are the materials that I really need to explore these questions I am interested in, how can I conserve and use only what I need? How to practice simplicity without becoming paralyzed is a balancing act: Holding the tension that it’s okay to use materials, but do so with intentionality; remembering it’s an ongoing practice that won’t be perfect.

As role models in sustainability, I look to other artists, organizers, activists. I read books about the creative and spiritual process, ecological perspectives on scripture, pedagogy, theories of change. I observe how things run and evolve in our community, the way we compost in the garden, the succession of plants throughout the year, the shifts in how the creek flows. I connect with local organizations who are trying to create the world we want to see. I have lots of lists of these “cool places and people and artworks that remind me to keep leaning into hope.” I keep asking, how do I apply these teachings to my creative practice? And slowly, my art practice teaches me how to live well.

See next question for more details on my current body of work, “Returning to Watershed Discipleship.”

Describe the proposed work or project.

For my project, called “Returning to Watershed Discipleship,” I will create colored pencil drawings on paper. This body of work builds off of sketches and themes I have been experimenting with for the past three years, and will include at least one 4x8ft, and six 24x24in large scale drawings. While varying in scale and shape, these colored pencil drawings on paper share a color palette inspired by bodies of water in this region (including the Roanoke River, Back Creek, and Greenbrier River). Cyclical, interconnected, topographic, concentric shapes and passages explore themes of Watershed Discipleship. Watershed Discipleship is a framework New Testament theologian Chad Meyers uses to bring together wisdom traditions and watersheds. Given that I live in a Catholic Christian community in a watershed directly impacted by the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a deepening commitment to Watershed Discipleship is at the heart of my creative practice. “Returning to Watershed Discipleship” opens possibilities for a creative practice and faith rooted in right relationship with local rivers.

Inspired by these images that I create, I will collaborate with Protect Our Water, Rights, and Heritage (POWHR) to plan and offer a water blessing in Roanoke (also directly affected by the MVP) on the theme of Watershed Discipleship. I will bring together readings, songs, prayers from different traditions to create an inclusive sacred space. Some of these readings will be from local perspectives, such as Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” which has its 50th anniversary this year. I will bring the images I make to the gathering, and I would offer an opportunity for folks to make their own colored pencil drawings in response to the water.

How will the work advance wellness, justice, or inclusion in Roanoke? Consider a community issue that you hope to address, something you want to celebrate or a condition you want to change.

This work invites a renewed relationship local waterways and wisdom traditions in our communities. Watershed Discipleship is a framework that can help express gratitude for the geography; lament the challenges, frustrations and violence experienced by local communities along the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline route; and offer an opportunity to be active participants in caring for our watershed.

I live within walking distance of a pipeline river crossing, and have been lamenting the mud, mountain blasts, sludge, slippage and colossal drills that rage throughout the night. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a community issue that has been very present to me over the last six months because its path literally connects Bethlehem Farm and Roanoke. Unfortunately, I would strongly prefer that these two places I call home not be connected by this dangerous, high pressure natural gas infrastructure.

Over the past few months, I have been exploring ways to participate in the resistance movement, with particular awareness of my experience as an artist and person of faith, who lives full time in the affected geography. Some of the ways I have already been involved include water testing, planning/leading water blessings along the Greenbrier River, making art, and attending workshops sponsored by WV Rivers and POWHR. This January, we had a retreat for the Bethlehem Farm Caretakers (full time community members) on Watershed Discipleship led by Claire Hitchins (who grew up in Roanoke and just graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School). Inspired by the activities she shared with us, I will deepen engagement with my watershed and invite viewers and workshop participants along this journey of learning to care for their local rivers. I will help ensure that folks who live in Roanoke also are aware of the environmental justice landscape that is unfolding in their backyard. I will advance justice and wellness by doing what I can to mobilize against extractive energy injustice and towards right relationship with our local waterways.

While the pipeline is emotionally very heavy, I hope to respond by creating spaces of transformation. As part of my process, I will be exploring essays, poetry, song that also orient participants towards reverence for water. In particular, I will be thinking about “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” by Annie Dillard. 2024 is the 50th anniversary of this book, which is set at a creek at Hollins University. Dillard’s close looking and big questions, ability to see both beauty and violence is a model for us as we confront extreme energy in our community and seek to maintain hope.

When do you anticipate undertaking the work? If the project is tied to a set event or date, let us know.

I will be working on the drawings throughout the year. I carry around colored pencils and little pieces of paper with me everywhere so I can work on them during small pockets of time (i.e., while sitting in meetings.) I am also looking into artist residencies that will give me the space and time to develop the larger images. Some of the places I am submitting applications are Mid Mountain in Natural Bridge, VA, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst County, and the Grunewald Guild in Leavenworth, WA.

This winter/spring, I will have several opportunities to help lead water blessings near the Greenbrier River, in collaboration with the Alderson Artisans Gallery and WV Rivers. I most likely would like to do the Roanoke water blessing some time later in the year, but will work with POWHR and other commitments to plan a date.

Are there partners in this effort? If so describe the partnerships and what each partner brings.

from their website: “members and organizations are part of a growing grassroots movement to stop fossil fuel expansion in Appalachia, including the MVP, and to kickstart the transition to a just and renewable future. We integrate the broader context of this pipeline fight into all our work, as part of a united fight to stop all new fossil fuel projects in the United States, combat environmental injustice, and meaningfully address the climate crisis.”
– With POWHR, I have led art workshops, such as for a community day in Newport, VA. Their grassroots work is directly situated in both Roanoke and Summers County (as well as all the counties and cities in between) so collaborating with them helps to bridge these places in watersheds I call home.

Mid Mountain
Located near Natural Bridge, this “arts collective and project is in constant growth that believes in the power of people to reclaim space and caring for your neighbors.”
–I applied for an artist fellowship here for either March or June. Part of the agreement in receiving a fellowship is hosting an event, so I would plan to do a water blessing here, too. If attending the workshop does not work with my schedule, I will still explore their residency options ($500/week for a shared bedroom) and other opportunities for collaboration since we are on parallel journeys. Mid Mountain has already been supporting artmaking in response to the pipeline, so they would be a good resource to draw on.

Artivism VA
“ Creating a supported connection between Virginia artists & activists working for environmental justice with strategy, messaging, event & campaign production, music, spoken word, visual design, sound, videography & photography”
– I’ve been at several events where Artivism sponsored the creative activities, so they would be a good resource.

Alderson Artisans Gallery
I have the opportunity to lead an art workshop here at the Greenbrier River. Raising awareness of the river anywhere along the route helps the whole river.

Your theory of change: How will the work advance your efforts as an artist toward an established goal? How will you, a partner organization, or the community be changed?

My project specifically has two parts, the art making and the community gathering because both are important for transformation. Having a committed contemplative practice of making images, drawings, experimenting, reflecting and responding allows me to do the inner work necessary for creating spaces of collective transformation and healing.

You’ll notice that my budget includes a reading list–as part of my project, I will develop an annotated bibliography that explores themes of Watershed Discipleship. These readings will inform the images I create, and I can also share the books with folks who participate in the water blessing.

My theory of change has recently been informed by the book “Active Hope” which includes Joanna Macy’s framework of the “Work that Reconnects.” She offers a spiral image of transformation in which we start with gratitude, honor our pain, see with new eyes, and go forth. This is the format I have been thinking about when resisting the Mountain Valley Pipeline and bringing creative practice to this movement.

How do we bring people of different or no faith traditions together around this common commitment to caring from our watershed? From what I’ve seen so far in environmental justice movement of this region of the Appalachian Mountains, there is a need for faith-rooted activism/organizing that my creative work and affiliation with Bethlehem Farm helps meet. Watershed discipleship can help organizations like POWHR expand their reach to folks whose values are informed by their religious traditions.

How much money do you need to accomplish the project? (The allowed range is $500 – $3,000.)$2000
What other resources do you need to accomplish the project?

One of the big questions of my creative practice has been: how do I show and share my work? Since I’m very process oriented and make a lot of works on paper at many different scales (and often go back and repurpose old works or cut things up) I sometimes have a block with framing things. Is it worth the time, effort and cost investment? Unfortunately, I have yet to find places in Roanoke where I can display things outside of the conventional square. So–any input on that part of developing this body of work would be helpful.

Attach a full budget for your project. Include all costs and revenues. This can be a spreadsheet, word document, PDF, or image.artist-action-grant-2024-budget.pdf
Submit your CV, resume, or brag sheet here.Artist-Action-Resume-2024-2.pdf
Submit a PDF of up to five images representing recent projects or works. (Max file size 10 MB). This should be one file containing multiple images. This must be a PDF. Include captions describing the work. (A PDF can easily be made using the “print as PDF” function in MS Word or “Download as PDF” in google docs.)Artist-action-portfolio-2024-.pdf
Do you have general liability insurance coverage for your arts-based business, either through your own policy or through a project partner?I don't think so? I have health insurance through my organization if that counts