Five local artists and over 350 Campbell County, TN children will come together for an immersive day of arts education in the inaugural ArtReach on the Road, a new initiative from Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. The first ArtReach on the Road takes place February 25 – March 1 at the LaFollette Community Center. Five area artists will instruct students from participating schools including: Elk Valley Elementary (4-8th grade), White Oak Elementary (4-8th grade), Caryville Elementary (4-5th grade), Wynn Elementary (4-7th grade), and Valley View Elementary (4th grade).
ArtReach on the Road offers workshops in a range of media that have a significant history in Appalachia. Arrowmont is excited to begin in Campbell County, whose rich history and deep-rooted creative community make it a great location to initiate the program. Five outstanding local artists will provide traditional Appalachian arts and crafts instruction:
- Robert Ballard will teach students the art of basketry weaving. Ballard is a self-taught artist who has been weaving baskets for over 18 years. He is a member of the Foothills Crafter Guild, the Tennessee Craft Guild and The Association for Visual Arts. He teaches various classes in the Morgan County Prison for Focus ministries and serves as a church elder, teaching 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday School classes.
- Terri Chaniott will instruct students in traditional quilting techniques. She is a Campbell County native with a degree in Art Education, and has taught all grade levels. She has served on the executive boards of the Campbell Artists Association and the Campbell County Culture Coalition, and is currently a member of Piecemakers and LaFollette Quilt guilds. Inspired by her grandmother, she began quilting at the age of 27 and has made nearly 50 quilts since that time.
- Lauren Houser will focus on the resourcefulness of Appalachia’s residents, who used every-day “found” items to create both necessities and art, in her needlecraft workshops. Houser is a self-taught seamstress, currently enrolled in the small business management program at Northeast State Community College. She creates women’s clothing, bags, aprons and accessories and sells them at various arts and crafts events in the community and online. She loves to use repurposed materials and search second hand shops, estate sales, and vintage markets for unique fabrics and findings.
- John Polly will emphasize the importance of wood crafted products in the early Appalachia homestead in his woodworking classes. Polly was taught basic woodworking skills by his dad at a very early age. He learned a true appreciation of how to work wood with limited tools, and has made countless pieces of furniture, odds and ends, and turned wooden bowls through the years. He enjoys teaching woodworking basics to adults and kids.
- Carol McClain will give students a simple stained glass pattern and teach them to create their own sun catcher. McClain has taught for over 30 years in northern New York, and has been a stained glass artist for the past five years. She participates in area craft shows, creates custom pieces and designs, and sells her work online together with her husband, a creator of cigar-box guitars, at theartsathummingbirdhill.com.
ArtReach on the Road will be directed by M. Paige Ward, a native of Frog Jump, Tennessee. Ward graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art with a minor in Professional Education and TN K-12 Visual Arts Teaching Licensure in the fall of 2010 from Union University in Jackson, TN. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Arts / Ceramics from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 2017. She recently completed a yearlong residency at Arrowmont where she now serves on staff.
“I’m excited to facilitate this launch,” Ward said, “because I grew up in a small, rural area that didn’t have art in the school system at all until high school. My career as an artist is a direct result of individuals who encouraged me and exposed me to art. I was lucky because my granddaddy took me in his woodshop and showed me how to build things. Not every child has that opportunity. ArtReach on the Road provides that opportunity for every student.”
ArtReach on the Road is modeled on Arrowmont’s celebrated ArtReach program, a rural arts outreach initiative established 25 years ago that has served over 25,000 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—knowledge that is disappearing as the region becomes urbanized and practitioners often do not transmit their skills to future generations.