This is 22-year-old Gregory Mitchell. He’s a graffiti artist in Southern West Virginia.

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But it’s not what you think of when you first hear graffiti.

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His is art.

The old Baileysville High School in Wyoming County, now the Baileysville Community Center, displays a portion of Gregory’s art:

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One of the churches in the area even had Gregory paint their youth room.

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He also lent his talents to a display in Welch for the premier of “Hollow”, the award-winning interactive documentary about McDowell County from Elaine Sheldon.

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What inspired him to paint isn’t what you expect.

“The coal trains, I reckon,” he said. He saw those paintings not as vandalism but art.  He began with sketches of people and events that had significant meaning to him.

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While a student at Wyoming East High School, 29 miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster. A grandson of miners, it moved him.

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Gregory is picture of a true Mountaineer with his love of hunting, ginsenging, banjo playing, and art.

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If he’s not sitting in the hollow playing his banjo or roaming the mountains looking for game or ginseng, Gregory is either on-call for his local volunteer fire department or working for Jan-Care Ambulance as an EMT.

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Like the rest of us, he’s always thankful that “Mountaineers Are Always Free”.

Montani Semper Liberi

MORE: 18 Photos That Show Life in West Virginia Coal Camps in the 40’s

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