Front & center
An immersive “post-event Appalachia” will soon welcome explorers at the Center for Craft
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ASHEVILLE, NC (September 27, 2023) – Over 40 individual artists and artists’ collectives from Western North Carolina, and specializing in art forms as diverse as theater, sculpture, textiles, performance art, mask making, installation art, furniture making, and more will bring their singular visions of a “post-event Appalachia” to life in the Krafthouse 2023: Forest of the New Trees. The immersive installation will open to intrepid explorers Thursdays and Fridays from 5 - 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 2 - 4 p.m. and 6 - 9 p.m. from September 28-October 13 at Center for Craft in downtown Asheville (67 Broadway). Tickets are on sale now.
Local artist Jeannie Regan, this year’s Creative Director, has invited each artist to interpret the theme for the inaugural Krafthouse – “Forest of the New Trees” – uniquely, creating shifting, simultaneous realities that will coexist in tandem with one another and with visitors, who will also play a role in this ephemeral, unforgettable world. Audience members will be active participants, whether they choose to interact directly with the artists or simply to move through and explore the lively night market. Each merchant-artist will have their own story of what has happened in Appalachia, which they will share through the arts and wares they have created. In this new, post-currency world, participants may trade for these wares with objects they have brought or made while in attendance.
While glimpses of each artist's interpretation will be shared on social media and the Center for Craft's website, Krafthouse will be most powerful and rewarding when experienced in its totality. Visitors are also encouraged to return, and can expect a different experience each night as this communally-imagined Appalachia evolves, and as they themselves seek new routes, both physical and imaginary, through the space.
Konrad Sanders, Krafthouse’s lead fabricator, notes that “Forest of the New Trees” is a way to participate in an immersive and performative future reality created by artists responding to the question, ‘What will the future look like?’” He hopes that participants will “come look through the peephole into the future Appalachia we've created.”
Morgan Hill, a sculptor, jeweler, and installation artist inspired by ‘90s pop culture, camp, and costume design, shares that participation has allowed her “to imagine how we come together after major shifts in our lives.” She says that much of her work focuses on hardship and subjects that aren't always easy to talk about, often from her personal life.
“The older I get, the more I realize that the hardships I face aren't experienced alone,” she says. “Forest of the New Trees is about experiencing hardship – or what comes after major change – that shakes [up] our lives as we know it. Although this is an imagined journey, it's necessary sometimes to live out these things in our minds and bodies and find a way to connect to each other.
“In my own studio, I am at play with my own life scenarios,” she adds. “Much like a dream, I imagine a scenario and then I play it out through my body and what I create. Starting with one major idea, I have created a future world alongside other artists in Krafthouse. It's been incredible seeing the comparisons of our worlds. Collaboration has been easy, but still surprising thus far. It's a nice change to work alongside artists with the same goals instead of creating alone.”
Other artists include Joshua Adams, a Cherokee wood and stone carver, painter, potter, 3D printer, and videographer; immersive aural artist Dammkiana; Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective; Jenny Fares, graphic designer and founder of Sound Mind Design; Nora Hartlaub, a sculptor, installation, video, and performance artist; fiber collective Local Cloth; utopian visionary collective Order of the Butterfly; filmmaker Donnie Rex; furniture designer and sculptor Ellie Richards; photographer, ceramicist, filmmaker, and filmmaker Cat Siravantha; interdisciplinary collective Swanntopia; experimental animator and documentary filmmaker Charlotte Taylor; jewelry, textiles, and woodworking artist Devyn Vasquez; steel and paper sculptor Darcy Ward; and multimedia visual artist Liz Williams, who has curated the film screening embedded in the experience.
For people new to immersive experiences, Crystal Sherriff, Krafthouse’s Cultural Advisor, has this to share: “For those of you who have never experienced an immersive experience crafted around your inner compass, you’re in for a treat. Krafthouse allows artists to get into their most creative flow to take audiences through portals and worlds that we’ve only previously imagined. You don’t want to miss this.”
Tickets ($15) provide guests with a self-guided tour of the immersive installation, which runs for approximately three weeks from September 28-October 13 on Thursdays and Fridays from 5 - 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 2 - 4 p.m. and 6 - 9 p.m. Ticketed tours depart every 10 minutes, and the experience takes approximately 30 minutes.
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ABOUT CENTER FOR CRAFT Founded in 1996, the Center for Craft’s mission is to resource, catalyze, and amplify how and why craft matters. As a 501(c)3 national nonprofit that increases access to craft by empowering and resourcing artists, organizations, and communities through grants, fellowships and programs that bring people together. The Center is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential organizations working on behalf of craft in the United States. For more information, visit www.centerforcraft.org.