Enriching lives through art and craft

2023-2024 Artists-in-Residence Exhibition: Souvenirs

March 18 – May 17, 2024 | Sandra J. Blain Galleries

M. Kobe and Kidd Graves | 2023-2024 Artists-in-Residence Exhibition, Souvenirs

M. Kobe. And I was afraid of the dark too, even where I could see the stars. When they are not hiding beyond. Behind their shadows. (A reflection of the stars as seen in Hot Springs, NC), 2024. Soda tabs, found fabric, cotton and synthetic yarns, and mylar emergency blankets.
Karena “Kidd” Graves. Deathly Owls and Pocket Remedies, 2023. Tufted yarn, resin embellishments, repurposed Indigo dyed canvas


For their final exhibition as the Arrowmont Artists-in-Residence, our 2023-2024 artists worked with Megan Adams, 2023-2024 Kenneth R. Trapp Craft Assistant/Curatorial Fellow, to create a show that spans medium, meaning and style.

Exhibition Statement

Souvenirs features artwork created by the 2023-2024 cohort of Artists-in-Residence during their 11-month residency at Arrowmont. While living in Gatlinburg, the five artists experienced the wildly dichotomous locale, evinced by the material culture in the area that spans kitschy consumables to traditional artisan-made handicrafts. Though this exhibition offers a nod to a facet of this tourist town’s economy, you will find that the art on view is emblematic of a more nuanced engagement with place and cultural exchange. The artworks in the show are tokens of remembrance, not of a quick visit or short trip but a prolonged stay. There is a reciprocity to these creative contributions- these artists are not just taking something with them from their time at Arrowmont, they are also leaving a part of themselves here, and inviting us to witness the growth, evolution, inspiration, and triumph represented in their new bodies of work.

-Megan Adams, 2023-2024 Kenneth R. Trapp Craft Assistant/Curatorial Fellow

Dongyi Wu. The Black in Dark 2, 2023. Fabric, Lego, beads, ribbon, binder, vintage jewelry, cotton, sewing thread, steel. 



Dongyi WuDongyi Wu

Dongyi’s artwork is divided into two sections that show her exploration of metal and jewelry making, fashion art, and the relationship between body and adornment during her stay at Arrowmont. By using a wide range of unconventional materials, Dongyi creates her narrative jewelry pieces with expressive language that is inspired by small and interesting stories in everyday life.

The first section, Passerby, is presented by contemporary jewelry pieces and images shot on the busy tourist street of Gatlinburg. The Passerby series aims to capture the moments Dongyi observes of people walking next to her on streets, or people that are pictured in the photos inside fashion magazines. Through observing the variety of colors on people’s clothes and accessories, and the rich and vivid expressions on their faces, Dongyi found these details could express people’s personalities, preferences, and even moods of the day. By capturing all these elements and transferring them into jewelry form, Dongyi wants to record people’s daily lives, narrate their stories, and show the small but interesting stories around us.

The inspiration for Passerby2 comes from a backstage photo inside a fashion magazine, where the visual contrast between the model’s formal garments and the dramatic makeup interested Dongyi. She hand-carved cherry wood and built their special shapes and textures based on the construction of the model’s ears, and then painted the wood’s surfaces with layers of acrylic paints and gesso to mimic the thick foundation of his makeup. The fabric sections surrounding the wood parts were inspired by the model’s clothes and accessories. The model wore a simple golden earring, which Dongyi found further presented his elegant but rebellious style, and inspired the golden-colored ring elements found on the pieces.

The second section is The Black in Dark, which includes large dimensional jewelry/body jewelry pieces. The idea of the project came to Dongyi when she visited national parks with her friend. The natural environment brought her a feeling of silence, peace, and power that embraced everything harmoniously. Grass, rocks, and even the remains left by human activities looked like decorative items attached to the endless ground. As an artist with a jewelry background, Dongyi would like to describe them as “brooches of lands.” She hopes these “brooches” could play a role as a medium to explore the connection between humans and nature. For The Black in Dark, Dongyi focuses on night views. When everything was covered in darks, either the things that originally existed in nature or the stuff brought by humans were blended in darks. Dongyi applied artificial materials to mimic the natural stuff, such as cloth pins, ribbons, and vintage jewelry. Through the replacement of the materials, Dongyi raises the question of whether human activities destroy the natural environment, or if these activities should be considered as part of nature.

Dongyi Wu(she/her) is a Chinese-born contemporary jewelry artist, who is currently an artist-in-residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN. Dongyi received her Master’s Degree in Metal and Jewelry Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Jewelry Art Design from the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology in China. Dongyi has her works shown in numerous group exhibitions and recently presented her sixth solo show Shadows of the Daylight, Glimmer of the Nighttime at the Clamp Light Studios & Gallery in San Antonio, TX. Dongyi was a finalist for ENJOIA’T 2017 in Spain, a finalist for the Leap Award in the United States, and in 2020 she won Preziosa Young as part of Florence Jewellery Week. Dongyi’s work also has been featured in many publications, including the recent book Original Jewelry Design published in China.

Instagram:  @dongyi.w

Karena “Kidd” Graves. Deathly Owls and Pocket Remedies, 2023. Tufted yarn, resin embellishments, repurposed Indigo dyed canvas


Karena “Kidd” Graves

During my time at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, I have explored the relationship between birds and death by creating large-scale mixed-media tapestries. These works include imagery and known instances of birds’ relationships with death or deadly things. Much of the research I collect comes from my family’s stories or books and articles referencing oral storytelling from African American people in the South. My work is a playful iteration of the materials I gather whether it be repurposed objects, textiles, or stories. When I create these pieces and share these stories I find that people outside of my community are inspired and have stories that they’d like to share too. This fuels me because no matter what race or ethnicity we are there is a way to find commonalities in our own stories. Whether these stories resonate close to the soul, mind, or ears, they serve as bridges that bring people together.

Karena “Kidd” Graves is a multidisciplinary artist from North Carolina. Their art practice consists of creating sculptural assemblages, weavings, mixed media textiles, and public art mainly from repurposed and recycled materials. Kidd’s interest and research focuses on African-American dream symbolism, folklore, and storytelling. They received an MFA in Sculpture at East Carolina University. Currently, they are an Artist-in-Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Their current work focuses on the symbolism of death and birds in African-American folklore.

Instagram: @kiddkreates
Marissa Childers | 2023-2024 Artist-in-Residence Exhibition: Souvenirs

Marissa Childers. Toast to Simple Moments, 2023. Table: Stoneware, electric fired to Cone 1, paint. Mimosa Set: Stoneware, soda fired to Cone 10, decal and luster fired to Cone 018


Marissa Childers

Childers’s work explores moments of connection and intimacy while celebrating femininity and craft found within domestic spaces. She is often inspired by things society deems as a ‘craft’ or ‘feminine’ such as quilting, sewing, and decoration. These domestic activities heavily influence the work she creates and further inform her building process. The various textures and patterns used are intended to evoke a sense of joy and nostalgic comfort, while small hidden details draw you in for a closer look. Childers strives to make artwork that is elegant yet inviting to the touch so it may be easily woven into the lives of others.

As she reflects upon and processes these smaller moments, it gives her room to navigate old and new identities within her narrative. Her work not only allows her to pay homage to where she is from but also helps her understand the world around her and the place in which she belongs as a woman and an artist.

Marissa Childers (she/her) is a ceramic artist and educator living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She was born and raised in the small town of Florence, Alabama where she earned her BFA from the University of North Alabama. Upon graduating she worked as a ceramic intern at Anderson Ranch Arts Center and soon after received her MFA at the University of Oklahoma. She is currently an Artist in Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.

Childers has exhibited her work at numerous galleries across the United States and India. She was the recipient of the NCECA Graduate Student Fellowship in 2021, was chosen as one of Ceramics Monthly’s Emerging Artists of 2022, and was an NCECA Emerging Artist in 2023.

Website: www.MarissaChilders.com
Instagram: @Marissa_Ceramics

M. Kobe | 2023-2024 Artist-in-Residence Exhibition: Souvenirs

M. Kobe. And I was afraid of the dark too, even where I could see the stars. When they are not hiding beyond. Behind their shadows. (A reflection of the stars as seen in Hot Springs, NC), 2024. Soda tabs, found fabric, cotton and synthetic yarns, and mylar emergency blankets


M. Kobe

M. Kobe

As an artist from the American South, primarily Louisiana and North Carolina, I make work that is informed by my own natural history and questions what it means to live in these regions now. Building off the myths of my religious upbringing, folk tales taught in elementary school, and my love for country music, I navigate these superstitions and examine what it means to write my own.

My work functions as reminders of finitude, pointing to the urgency of the present, of living. The art objects I make, tapestries and sculptures, are embedded with found natural or “lucky” materials and imbued with personal narrative. Serving as desperate attempts at future prosperity, the forms in my work often resemble calendars, holes, portals, and tombs. They reference death while suggesting the potential for something more porous. Through the physical transformation of my materials, they become more than memento mori and can hold a history that extends beyond my own lifetime, both before and after.

I am learning what it means to love a place that can be hard to love, to love a landscape that loves me back. I make my work with gratitude and admiration and as a critical yet redemptive response to the complicated places I call home.

M. Kobe is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They earned an MFA in Painting from Boston University, a BFA in Painting, and a BA in Art History from Louisiana State University. Kobe is a storyteller and multi-disciplinary artist working primarily with textiles, found natural materials, and lucky objects. Drawing upon her experiences growing up in the American South, her work contends with the religious mythologies of her upbringing, superstition, notions of home, and cultural inheritance. Kobe was the grand prize recipient of the 2023 Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award, the BU Women’s Council Scholarship, the Constantin Alajalov Visual Art Scholarship, and the Michael Crespo Memorial Scholarship.

Website: www.madelainekobe.com
Instagram: @madelainekobe

Rosie Amato. Aqua-aerobics, 2024. Earthenware | Rosie Amato | 2024 Arrowmont Artist-in-Residence

Rosie Amato. Aqua-aerobics, 2024. Earthenware


Rosie AmatoRosie Amato

This body of work parses aging, disability, and womanhood from the site of the figure. The work draws both from my experiences interviewing residents of Minnesota nursing homes on behalf of the Department of Human Services, and from my personal experiences of mystery illness, disability, and recent recovery. In the month leading up to the show, I discovered I was suffering from a severe systemic allergy to nickel, prompting me to pause my metalsmithing practice and pivot to clay. Encumbered by these heavy experiences from the past few years, I worked in the most direct way possible: carving tiny people out clay and putting them on a shelf.

Rosie Amato is an artist from St. Paul, MN. She holds a BFA in jewelry/metalsmithing and sculpture from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and has worked in historical collections, galleries, and as a studio assistant at Penland School of Craft.

Instagram: @rosie.amato_

ART WORKSTENNESSEE ARTS COMMISIONTENNESSEE FOR THE ARTSTennessee Specialty License PlatesEAST TENNESSEE FOUNDATIONWindgate Foundation Arrowmont is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

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