STRANGE NATIVE – Rural Appalachia, West Virginia

 The scenery is unusual and interesting in its diversity: high mountains are broken by broad level valleys, narrow gorges, or swifthly falling rivulets that form shining miniature falls and cascades; sloping foothills and rolling valleys are ribboned by broad rivers; bare peaks rise above forested hills and field-dotted plateaus.  – West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State (WPA, 1941)

In his newest body of work, photographer Nic Persinger assembles a collection of stark, mesmerizing scenes of rural Appalachia. Combining photographs taken over the course of five years throughout the hills and back roads of West Virginia, his home, Strange Native is at once a deeply personal photographic memoir and a broad examination of intimate corners of American life. Images of family, religious icons, and ghostly remnants of the past evoke a profound sense of place that is both singular and universal. Ranging from intimate, subdued portraits to broad, hypnotizing landscapes, the collection is interwoven with a startling sadness and surreal beauty that’s characteristic of Persinger’s work. The collection examines some of the quintessential elements of Southern culture– questions of God, genesis, and ancestry—with a distinctive, relentlessly curious perspective. At times bizarre, but always authentic, Strange Native is an essential portrait of rural America.


Nic Persinger is an Appalachian artist from the hollers of Southern West Virginia. He studied fine art photography at the Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, D.C. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and has also been published nationally. Through traditional film techniques, Persinger documents rural Appalachia in untraditional ways—ever mindful of the stories he grew up hearing from family and friends in the small, tightly-knit town of Richwood, West Virginia.

Nic’s first-ever book project Strange Native will be a hand-numbered edition of 100 copies and published by Empty Stretch. It is now accepting backers and pre-orders at his website, where you can also see more of his work. Nic regularly posts on Tumblr and Instagram.