The Athens Conservancy announced Tuesday that a local artist will create a piece of art as the centerpiece for a new project spotlighting the conservancy’s natural lands and the unique spirit of Appalachian Ohio.

The project – dubbed Spectacular Appalachia – is supported by a seed grant from Ohio’s Winding Road, and is designed to enlist the talents of a regional, emerging artist, according to a release.

The nature-inspired artwork will be used to create distinctive products that celebrate the conservancy’s lands and trails, and showcase the area’s natural beauty, culture, and creativity, the release said.

Savannah Freeman is a self-taught block-print maker in Athens whose work is heavily influenced by the plants and animals of Southeast Ohio; she also operates Moonville Print Shop, the release said. She is one of 13 artists from Ohio’s Appalachian region who applied for consideration.

A panel of Athens Conservancy board members and an Ohio branding and marketing professional selected Freeman’s work for the project, the release said. In addition to her creative prints and her focus on native plants and animals, the group was impressed with Freeman’s concept for the endeavor.

“My goal as an artist is to showcase the beauty and biodiversity of our area in a way that encourages others to foster a stewardship for the natural world,” Freeman said.

She added that she envisions a design centered on the wildflowers and wildlife that are nurtured in one of the conservancy’s forested preserves.

Athens Conservancy board member Barbara Flowers said the organization is delighted to work with Freeman to create a unique product that celebrates the natural world, and encourages people to enjoy time in the 12 Athens Conservancy nature preserves that are open to the public.

“She really wowed the committee with her creativity,” Flowers said in a release “And her stunning block prints are perfect for translating to a product such as a tote bag or t-shirt.”

Athens Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust that strives to protect special spaces and wild places for people to explore and enjoy, maintain healthy ecosystems, preserve water quality, protect biodiversity, and nurture natural habitats, according to a release. The conservancy’s lands in Athens County and surrounding areas encompass nearly 2,900 acres, with more than 1,700 acres open to the public to explore. For more, visit athensconservancy.org.

Ohio’s Winding Road is a locally driven economic development initiative in Appalachian Ohio, specifically in the Hocking and Muskingum River Valleys. This includes Morgan, Athens, Perry, Hocking, Fairfield, Vinton, Meigs, Washington, and Muskingum counties.

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