As the moving vehicle exits the beauty and quietness of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to enter the small, bustling, and tourist filled city of Gatlinburg, TN, one might be led to believe that she has made a wrong turn. I thought, “I was going to a quiet artist community.” “Isn’t that was Arrowmont is?” he thinks. But in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Gatlinburg; right on the main strip, he finds it. The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts – tucked away and protected by its own creative and artistic bubble. Originally founded in 1912 to provide basic education for the citizens of Gatlinburg, Arrowmont has become a center for experiential learning in craft and art. Arrowmont provides an opportunity for people to come together as they embark on their personal journey to seek fresh ways of seeing, understanding, problem-solving, and communicating in the world in which they live through the exploration of art and craft. In addition to learning new forms of craft and skill, more importantly, Arrowmont creates an experience that enriches lives in unexpected ways. One of the valuable elements of that experience is the people that are met and the relationships that are formed.
In this series of blog posts, we introduce you to some of the faces of Arrowmont. We want to demonstrate the value in the experiences and relationships that are formed when an individual decides to step out of his comfort zone and participate in the Arrowmont experience.
Introducing Educational Assistant: Supply Store and Gallery Intern, Rachael Mayer.
Rachael Mayer hails from Idaho where she is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree at Idaho State in Paper and Fiber Art. Mayer’s work explores ideas of community. With a Bachelor of Art in Anthropology from Williamette University in Oregon, Mayer is fascinated by studying how people live in community; how we form networks and support systems for ourselves through those communities. Mayer explores these ideas through weaving and often through the creation of folded paper tetrahedrons that form larger structures and installations within space.
Mayer learned about Arrowmont from her graduate advisor who also participated in the Educational Assistants program. Through talking with Mayer, aside from learning about her responsibilities as an intern in the gallery and the store, I learned that one of the most valuable things that she will be taking away from her summer at Arrowmont is the opportunity that she was given to work in a community of like-minded individuals. Through her internship, Mayer had the opportunity to witness how dozens of artists approach being a maker and how they contribute to society in ways that go beyond teaching or education, by witnessing their work and studio practice, and through evening artist presentations. It seems that Arrowmont serves as a real-life depiction of what Mayer’s work explores – networks and communities of people. Through working in the safe space that Arrowmont creates, Mayer will be walking away with a new confidence in being a maker. She will walk away with a nurtured and refreshed creativity because she witnessed other people who had the same mission in mind in the community created at Arrowmont.
As I continue to move through life, I am realizing that it is the relationships that are formed that are the most valuable. It is through relationships that we are challenged and pushed and pulled to see new ideas in a new way. It is through relationships that we grow. Aside from the skill and craft that is to be learned at places like Arrowmont, it appears that what becomes more valuable are the relationships that are formed; the friendships that are made. In that sense, the art and the craft is just a vehicle for something greater – community and relationship.
As Mayer would testify, “It has been a gift to be here this summer.” So we invite you to come and join the movement. Join the creative community of Arrowmont by signing up for a fall workshop (click here to browse our upcoming classes) and see what it is that Arrowmont has to offer. It will be totally unexpected.
You may learn more about the work of artist, Rachael Mayer by visiting her website: http://www.rachaelmayerart.com/
This blog was written as part of a Fall 2017 blog series by Paige Ward. Paige is currently staying at Arrowmont as part of the Artists-in-Residence program, which encourages early career artists who embrace community and enjoy working in a team environment to experiment and develop a new body of work.