Enriching lives through art and craft

Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan County, WV Kids, Local Artists participate in Arrowmont’s ArtReach-on-the-Road

It’s the beginning of summer break but 60 school-age children in Kanawha, Lincoln, and Logan Counties are catching the school bus this week. They wake up early, pack their lunch, but when they arrive they are not at their normal elementary or middle schools. They are dropped off at the Big Ugly Community Center for an immersive day learning traditional Appalachian crafts through ArtReach on the Road, a program by Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts presented in partnership with Step-by-Step WV.


ArtReach on the Road offers workshops in a range of media that have a significant history in Appalachia, led by local artists and craftspeople. Kanawha, Lincoln, and Logan County schoolchildren will experience an immersive day of arts education at Big Ugly Community Center in Harts, WV, June 26 – 30, 2023. Students from Step-by-Step WV’s four program sites will participate in the program.

Step-by-Step is a 35-year-old organization dedicated to people working together to achieve their dreams in kindred communities across Southern West Virginia through dialogue, education and the arts, wellness, local leadership and resources, and service. In 1995, Step-by-Step shifted its focus to working with communities to support children to prevent and heal trauma, to work toward a world where children can thrive at home. That year, Big Ugly Community Center served as the launch pad for Step-by-Step’s continuous programs including after school and full day summer programs. Big Ugly Community Center is the heart of Step-by-Step’s programs, the only public building for 30 minutes in any direction in the community, with programs for kids and families in the region. This week, Arrowmont brings its celebrated ArtReach on the Road art education programming to the community.

Five working, professional local artists will provide traditional Appalachian arts and crafts instruction:

  • Elizabeth Haley grew up a coal miner’s daughter in a holler called Robinhood, in West Virginia. Currently living in Charleston, WV, Elizabeth is grateful to live in a beautiful state with abundant forests, that are both healing and full of inspiration. Elizabeth is also a Nurse Case Manager and has proudly served as a nurse for 37 years. Elizabeth Haley discovered needle and wet felting by accident – a friend taught her the basics and she fell in love with the medium! Elizabeth is mostly a self-taught needle-felter, and belongs to an online felting community that is supportive of each other through sharing and critiques. She will teach “Introduction into Needle Felting Gnomes.”
    • Introduction into Needle Felting-Gnomes – Instructor Liz HaleyThis beginner needle felting workshop will encourage students to explore a different way to sculpt, using felting needles and wool to make basic shapes that will become a gnome! Students will also be provided with visual aids and samples of the individual pieces, so they can determine how firm their piece needs to be. A brief history of felting in general, along with the history of needle felting will be provided.
  • Sidra Kaluszka is a nationally exhibiting artist in ceramics, watercolor, and photography, based in Radford, VA. Kaluszka graduated a double concentration MFA from Radford University in watercolor and ceramics, and received her BFA from Virginia Tech. She received Signature Membership in the Virginia Watercolor Society, Alaska Watercolor Society, and Pennsylvania Watercolor Society, and her work has been published in numerous publications including 500 Vases- Contemporary Expression of a Timeless Form, in 2010, and 500 Teapots vol. 2 in 2013. She teaches “Exploring Nature through Cyanotypes & Watercolor.”
    • Exploring Nature Through Cyanotypes & Watercolor – Instructor Sidra KaluszkaInvented in 1842, cyanotypes are one of the oldest forms of photography. In this workshop students will get to explore an introductory level experience with creating and processing cyanotypes, while also working hand in hand with the natural world. Students will get to explore nature to gather printing materials, study native plants, and even get to view preserved insects! The workshop will also dive into watercolors to build a multimedia finished piece.
  • Megan Koeppel is a textile and fiber artist originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she studied painting and curatorial practices. She uses her background in painting and textiles to create contemporary quilts that explore natural dye and traditional quilting. Koeppel exhibits her work mainly in her home state and on the east coast in galleries and museums, and recently completed an 11-month artist residency at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She is currently a Bresler artist-in-residence at VisArts Center in Maryland and will be a resident at Civitella Ranieri in Italy during the fall of 2023. She instructs a fiber workshop, “Natural Dye with Kitchen Scraps and Extracts.”
    • Natural Dye with Kitchen Scraps and Extracts – Instructor Megan Koeppel This workshop will center around natural dye as a vehicle for surface techniques on plant-based fibers. We will go over the mordanting process and different types of natural dye extracts and kitchen scraps that can be used for natural dye. Students will have the opportunity to immerse whole pieces of fabric and use soybean paste for a resist technique. 
  • Jada Patterson is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute where she received her BFA in ceramics and art history. Jada’s work explores the human condition pertaining to identity, material culture and adornment. She primarily works with beeswax and clay, but also creates works of art using traditional craft techniques like broom making and basketry. Jada has attended fellowships and residencies at the Ox-Bow School of Art, Charlotte Street Foundation, and as an artist-in-residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Jada will teach “Hand-made Hand Brooms.”
    • Hand-made Hand Brooms – Instructor Jada PattersonWhat do we all have in common as human beings? We will all use a broom in our lifetime! In this class students will learn how to create their own hand brooms, called whisks, that may possibly outlive them. Students will learn how to weave their own whisks using traditional Appalachian broom-making techniques, creating functional objects that are also works of art.
  • Brianna Taft graduated from Marshall University with an emphasis in sculpture, and then re-rooted to Charleston, WV to branch out with her art career. Growing up, Brianna felt limited by the forms of art she knew, but her time at Marshall expanded Taft’s art knowledge and ways to create and express herself. Brianna has a passion for educating and being involved in the community, and partners as an instructor with Festivall and the Clay Center in Charleston. Brianna is always experimenting with mixed media to bring her imagination to life. She teaches “Imprinted!” – a linocut printmaking workshop.
    • Imprinted! – Instructor Brianna TaftExploring the state’s impression on our young artists, students will use the printmaking process to create a linocut that further illustrates what it means to be a West Virginian. This workshop is designed to tie the history of printmaking with hands-on learning. Students will be introduced to both relief and monoprint processes, and will leave the workshop with several editions of a master linocut plate and one monotype print.

ArtReach on the Road is modeled on Arrowmont’s celebrated ArtReach program, a rural arts outreach initiative established over 25 years ago that has served over 30,000 Sevier County school children. ArtReach on the Road is designed to help modern students in Central Appalachia learn about and appreciate their culture and the importance of craft in their daily lives. It also addresses the preservation of traditional craft knowledge – connecting traditional practitioners with future generations through immersive instruction.

For more information about ArtReach on the Road, visit arrowmont.org/appalachian-craft/artreach or email Katie Sharpe, artreach program manager, [email protected].

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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