Award-winning photographer visits WVU Parkersburg, will display exhibits downtown and share message of peace

John Noltner, Minnesota photographer who has shot for national magazines and Fortune 500 companies, will visit West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s Center for Civic Engagement during October, sharing photos and stories from his award-winning series “A Peace of My Mind” with the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Noltner will transform Downtown Parkersburg businesses and organizations into exhibits, featuring compelling portraits and inspiring stories from people of diverse backgrounds responding to the question, “What does peace mean to you?” Since 2009, he has driven over 40,000 miles across the U.S., meeting unique individuals and telling their stories.

“I’ve learned that storytelling can help build a community,” Noltner said. “When we share our stories, we begin to see ourselves and those around us in new ways.”

The community may view the “American Stories” exhibit through a free walking tour from now until November 6. Participants are asked to follow social distancing and mask-wearing policies when viewing displays and entering local establishments.

Displays will be exhibited at:

• WVU Parkersburg Center for Civic Engagement, 414 Market Street
• Parkersburg Art Center, 725 Market Street
• Actors Guild of Parkersburg, 724 Market Street
• Wood County Society, 317 8th Street
• Artsbridge, 925 Market Street
• Edward Jones Office, 617 Market Street

Noltner also invites community members to be a part of his new exhibit, “Voices of the Mid-Ohio Valley.” From Tuesday, October 20 until Friday, October 23, Noltner will host an on-site studio at the Center for Civic Engagement. Individuals wishing to have their portrait taken and share their voice and personal stories may make an appointment by calling 304.424.8341.

“I’m looking forward to gathering stories about resilience in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Noltner said. “We have all been through a lot over the past several months and storytelling has the ability to remind us how much we are connected, even as we may be apart.”

“Voices of the Mid-Ohio Valley” will be on display at the Center for Civic Engagement from November 4 until November 14.

WVU Parkersburg will host two master class workshops with the artist for those wanting to learn more about photography, storytelling and writing.

Wide-Eyed Rambler: Photographing the beauty and wisdom that is all around us will take place Tuesday, November 3. During the session, Noltner will share his techniques and processes for photographing people, places and things while crafting storytelling images. He will use examples of his own photography from across the country and world.

Soul Sessions: Writing to reveal our personal story will take place on Wednesday, November 4. Noltner will lead a writing workshop designed to explore your own story and celebrate your mission, vision and values in the world. Participants will complete short writing exercises and open discussions, tapping into themes of vulnerability, courage and connection.

Both sessions will be from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Center for Civic Engagement and are free and open to the public. Limited seats are available to accommodate social distancing. Please email or call 304.424.8606 to register.

Programming is sponsored by the WVU Parkersburg, WVU at Parkersburg Foundation, Ross Foundation, First Energy, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, Arts Collaborative of the Mid-Ohio Valley and Judy Sjosde-Richie.

Please contact Senta Goudy, WVU Parkersburg dean of Civic Engagement, at or 304.424.8341 for more information.

Established in 1961, West Virginia University at Parkersburg is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Academic credits earned at WVU Parkersburg are transferable to any institution in the West Virginia higher education state system as well as other accredited institutions throughout the country. WVU Parkersburg is the only public community college in West Virginia accredited to offer baccalaureate degrees.