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MSU presents Ivan Doig exhibit at Big Sky Country State Fair

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BOZEMAN – The Montana State University Library will create an Ivan Doig archive exhibit for the 2017 Big Sky Country State Fair in Bozeman, to be held July 19-23 at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. “Ivan Doig: Voices and Vistas” will be an interactive learning experience that encourages the exploration of the celebrated Montana author’s work, according to Jan Zauha, outreach librarian at the MSU Library.

Zauha said the exhibit will highlight the intertwined nature of reading, writing, research and lived experience by using components of the Ivan Doig Archive, which is housed physically at the MSU Library’s Special Collections and online at

Doig, the son of a ranch foreman and sheep herder, was a third-generation Montanan born in White Sulphur Springs. Doig’s first memoir, “This House of Sky,” is a reminiscence about his childhood in Montana. Though Doig eventually left Montana, he continued to use the people and landscapes of Montana as the backdrop for many of his books

The library is collaborating with Mike Everts, a professor in the MSU School of Architecture, and MSU architecture students to conceptualize the exhibit. Additional students will work together with library staff to build certain aspects of the exhibit.

On Wednesday, July 19, there will be a grand opening of the exhibit at 5:30 p.m. in Exhibit Hall 1.  A revolving set of programs is scheduled throughout the duration of the exhibit, and includes informational presentations on Montana sheep ranching from the MSU Wool Lab, wool demonstrations by LaVonne Stucky with Serenity Sheep Farm, as well as daily writing exercises. The MSU Wool Lab will also have real sheep fleeces, sheep shears and other products such as lanolin, in order to demonstrate the process of collecting raw wool and turning it into the final project.

In addition, Paul Lachapelle, associate professor in the Department of Political Science and an MSU Extension community development specialist, will be on-site to record interviews from individuals who wish to share stories about their life, community or impressions and thoughts on Doig’s work. The interviews are part of the Montana Community Story Project, a collaborative effort between MSU Extension, MSU Library and StoryCorps, an organization that collects personal narratives from ordinary people, in order to preserve and share humanity’s stories, according to the StoryCorps website. 

“The project’s goal is to educate citizens on the importance of documenting and preserving, archiving stories about the people and places that make their communities so special,” said Lachapelle. “A secondary goal is to train community residents how to conduct interviews, record stories, preserve digital archives and create content to share online.”

Lachapelle hopes to collect stories from communities across Montana and place them in a permanent archive for future generations, both at the MSU Library and at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. 

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Yellowstone Writing Project, housed in the MSU Department of English, has partnered with MSU Library to host a writing competition open to all writers. The prompt for the competition is “Tell us your Montana Story.” “Voices and Vistas” will highlight the winners of the writing competition, and the Yellowstone Writing Project will coordinate activities for all ages throughout the fair.

Doig’s books and other Montana-related titles will be available for purchase at the exhibit through the Country Bookshelf bookstore. The Bozeman Public Library will partner with the MSU Library during the exhibit to provide content and programs promoting reading, Montana-related literature and exploration of the new BPL bookmobile.

The Big Sky Country State Fair, formerly known as the Gallatin County Fair, will run from noon to 10 p.m. each day. “Ivan Doig: Voices and Vistas” will be open during fair hours and is included in the general entrance fee.

 Visit for more information or contact Jan Zauha at (406) 994-6554 or

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