In 2020, Arrowmont celebrates 75 years as a school of arts and crafts. ARROWMONT: 75 YEARS OF CRAFT EDUCATION presents archival images and articles to recognize this milestone. Add your memories to the collection – click here to send us your pictures and stories!
In April, the Crafts Committee of the Sevier County Bicentennial Committee sponsored an exhibit of early regional crafts at Arrowmont. Items for the exhibit were from the Settlement School Historical Collection, from the permanent collection of the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild, and from the treasured personal collections of many Sevier County residents. Articles included examples of early weaving and drafts, wood carvings, kitchen and household implements, farm tools, baskets, examples of iron work, quilts, coverlets, spinning wheels, and looms – all items reflecting the rural country life to which they were essential.
Some of the items included from Arrowmont’s origins as a Settlement School included Phyllis Higginbotham’s saddle bags, in which she carried the medicine and aids delivered by horseback to “the mountain people” needing nursing care. Other pieces from the historic collection were several of Aunt Lyddie’s baskets, a weaving by 30-year Settlement School nurse Marjorie Chalmers depicting the first Craftsmen’s Fair held in 1948, and a narrow loom used for over 25 years by Josie Watson as a weaver for Arrowcraft.
In the summer workshops, photography classes were held for the first time.
A generous gift in 1974 began the process that was completed for the start of summer craft workshops in 1976 – the Edythe Brack Photography Studio. Classes for beginners and advanced photography students were conducted in one-week sessions. The beginning course included black-and-white continuous tone photography, film development techniques, print-making and enlargement procedures. Advanced projects offered instruction in special graphic techniques and photo manipulation.
The new facility was designed by Dr. William J. Lauer, assistant dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The studio and laboratories consisted of three main rooms, divided into smaller enclosures for individual use in developing film and making prints or enlargements. The workrooms also contained film drying cabinets, storage lockers, and complete facilities to accommodate 14 students at a time. Equipment included eight enlargers, easels, print timers, washing sinks, a print dryer, dry-mount press, and more.
The new studio allowed Arrowmont to hire an impressive staff of instructors: Robert Hansen, instructor at the School of Visual Arts and the New School, and official photographer for the American Crafts Council; Donald Scott Hartner, graphic designer and freelance photographer at the Limited Press Studio in Madison, WI; Earl Iverson, assistant professor of Design and Photography at the University of Kansas; Jack Schrader, associate professor of Art in Photography at East Tennessee State University, and Conrad Reinhardt, communications specialist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Photography courses were offered in Community Classes in the fall and winter.
Arrowmont Board member goes ‘undercover’ to discover the “Arrowmont Experience”
“Last July I was enrolled in a beginning jewelry class and was attempting to be just another student,” wrote Board of Governors co-chairman, Sarah “Sis” Mullis. “Purposefully, I’d asked not to be introduced as a member of the Board. I wanted to be a student like everyone else, to be part of my class, and to be able to listen to their comments, good and bad, about Arrowmont.
I have one regret about attending Arrowmont — that I did not go sooner. Others had told me about the feeling of oneness of the students, about the total dedication of the instructors, about the ‘Arrowmont Experience.’ But there was no way to put a feeling like that into words – there is no substitute for BEING there and BEING a part of it.
As a hospital pharmacist I normally spend my days filling prescriptions, not filing metals. I am living proof that someone with no art background and no craft experience can go to Arrowmont. I would not say it was easy; it was just as I had been told. I was in class from morning till night- because I wanted to be. The commitment and involvement you feel toward your class and your project totally engulfs you for the days you are there.”