The foundations of the thriving craft scene found in the Appalachian region today were constructed over time. Locally made crafts were first marketed to outside urban markets in the late 1800s by missionaries who came to these mountains to teach at the numerous settlement schools in the rural communities surrounding Asheville. Crafted Roots explores a critical time in the development of the region's handcrafted identity during the late 1800s through the 1930s.
At that time, many rural mountain people lived a subsistence life free from the pressures of the encroaching industrialized society. Audio recordings and objects convey this way of life. The voices heard are extracts from oral histories with local craftspeople and urban missionaries.
The missionary women who came to these mountains sought to uplift local communities through the revival and marketing of traditional crafts. The marketing of Appalachian crafts included the manipulation of traditional designs so that they would appeal to the affluent urban consumers who lived in the Northern cities from where many of these missionaries had come.
While there have been many exhibitions and scholarly texts that have examined the time period represented in Crafted Roots, none have incorporated audio extracts, scenography, and objects to tell this story. Here, you are invited to sit and spend time, you are asked to de-accelerate and actively listen to the stories that are told and consider the lives of the objects on display.
Links to exhibition audio available at MACraftstudiesWWC.com
Two Ways to View
Online visitors can purchase tickets ($5) to attend a virtual tour of this exhibition with curator, Michael Hatch.
The Center is offering free, unguided visits and affordable tours of its exhibitions to the public. Guests can reserve a 30-minute visit to explore the current exhibitions, learn more about the Center’s national impact in their Craft Research Fund Study Collection, and enjoy interactive activities. The Center is open to the public Tuesday-Friday, 12-6 pm. Hours of operation may be subject to change.
Center for Craft is monitoring the effects of COVID-19 on the community and following the instruction of federal, state, and local health departments. Our top priority is always the health and safety of our staff, coworkers, and visitors. At this time, the Center can only allow a maximum of five guests in its public space at once and will require the use of masks or face coverings by all visitors, including children. The Center reserves the right to refuse entry to any visitor that will not comply.
Cover Image: Oral History Interview, left to right Marian Heard, Bernice Stevens, Rude Osolnick, Georgia Wier, Folklife Documentation Project; Image courtesy of Southern Highland CraftGuild Archives.
This exhibition was developed as part of the 2023 Center for Craft Curatorial Fellowship. This program was created in 2017 to provide emerging curators with a platform to explore and test new ideas about craft. Each curator receives an honorarium, access to professional development tools, mentoring, and the opportunity to work closely with the other Curatorial Fellows and Center for Craft staff to produce their exhibition, develop educational materials, design an exhibition catalog, and deliver a curatorial talk.