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College of Media holds reception for "Be Still" photo exhibit by Elaine McMillion Sheldon

The West Virginia University Reed College of Media will host Elaine McMillion Sheldon during an opening reception for her photo exhibit, "Be Still," on Thursday, September 5, from 3 - 5 p.m. at the WVU Media Innovation Center on the fourth floor of Evansdale Crossing. 

"'Be Still' is to bear witness to both the beauty and pain before you, and accept them both as reality," according to Sheldon's exhibit description.

The reception will be the first chance to view Sheldon’s exhibit at WVU and “Be Still” will be on display at the Media Innovation Center through Friday, October 4. Light refreshments will be served, and the event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Shannon Cunningham at or (304) 293-6246.

About the Artist

Elaine Sheldon sitting by a green building

Elaine McMillion Sheldon is an Academy Award-nominated, and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker from Appalachia - a complicated region that deeply embeds itself in her work as a storyteller.

McMillion Sheldon is the director of two Netflix Original Documentaries - "Heroin(e)" and "Recovery Boys" - that explore America's opioid crisis. "Heroin(e)" was nominated for a 2018 Academy Award and won the 2018 Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Documentary. In 2013, she released "Hollow," an interactive documentary that examines the future of rural America through the eyes and voices of West Virginians. Hollow received a Peabody Award, Emmy nomination and 3rd Prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards.  

McMillion Sheldon was recently named a 2018 USA Fellow by United States Artists, one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine and one of "50 People Changing “The South" by Southern Living Magazine. She's a founding member of All Y'all Southern Documentary Collective. She has also been commissioned by Frontline PBS, The Center for Investigative Reporting, The New York Times Op-Docs, TEDWomen, Field of Vision and The Bitter Southerner.

McMillion Sheldon holds a BS in News Editorial Journalism from West Virginia University and an MFA in Media Art from Emerson College.  

McMillion Sheldon is a coal miner’s daughter, granddaughter, sister, and grew up in the coalfields of West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. She started her career writing in newsrooms, before transitioning to independent filmmaking.  

‘Connection to place,’ particularly Appalachia, has always been a driving force in her work. The 9th-generation Appalachian explores historical and contemporary threads that weave in and out of her own life. Her work is both personal and universal.

McMillion Sheldon paints a tender, yet critical picture of a place and people that is forever ingrained in her own identity. Ponderings on roots come from her own struggle to define herself in a place strongly steeped in stereotypes.

She currently lives and works in Charleston, West Virginia with her husband and filmmaker, Curren Sheldon.