This week, the school day will begin as usual for over 250 students in Harlan County, Kentucky and Lee County, Virginia school systems. They will pack their lunch, take the school bus; but this day will be different. Instead of their typical school day, they will participate in Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts educational outreach program, ArtReach on the Road. Their bus will drop them off at The Harlan Center in Harlan, KY for a day of workshops in traditional Appalachian craft.
ArtReach on the Road offers workshops in a range of media that have a significant history in Appalachia, led by local artists and craftspeople. Harlan County students will experience an immersive day of arts education March 7 – 11, 2022. Participating schools include Pennington Middle School (Lee County, VA) 7th-graders, Harlan Independent Middle and Harlan Independent High School students up to 10th-grade each day to participate in hands-on crafts with important roots in the community.
Five working, professional local artists will provide traditional Appalachian arts and crafts instruction:
Jill Robertson is an eastern Kentucky artist who studied at the Kentucky School of Craft. Jill has years of experience working in the nonprofit world and has participated in, and organized, numerous civic projects throughout Eastern Kentucky. Jill is also a 2018 recipient of the Kentucky Foundation for Women Artist Enrichment Grant, which assisted her in further developing metallurgical skills, and led to the creation of visible public/community art in Hazard, Kentucky. By being a visible female welder/artist in schools and throughout the community, she educates youth and challenges existing schemas by normalizing welding as an art form practiced by women.
Katie Sharpe received her BFA at Idaho State University in May 2018, while at school she also competed on the ISU rodeo team in the intercollegiate rodeo association. She spent the next three years in Harper, Oregon working at Harper Charter School and teaching art while rodeoing on the side. She now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, working as a studio technician at Arrowmont School of Craft. She is a sculpture artist and mostly works with clay and paper as her mediums. All her artwork surrounds the themes of rodeo, ranching and Cowboy Culture.
Katherine Wagner is a fiber artist currently residing in Knoxville, TN. Originally from Ohio, she graduated from Xavier University with a BFA in studio arts with a concentration in fibers and textiles in 2017. Her needle-felted work draws inspiration from nature and the environment around her. Along with fibers and textiles processes, Katherine enjoys working in bookbinding, illustration, and more. She teaches classes at Arrowmont and across the East Tennessee region.
Lacy Hale was born in southeastern Kentucky. She attended Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn, NY, and then returned to southeastern Kentucky to pursue her professional artistic career. She has created public murals in several Kentucky cities, including Lexington and Harlan. In 2018 Lacy received the Eastern Kentucky Artist Impact Award, she was a 2017 Special Grant recipient from Great Meadows Foundation, a 2018 nominee for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting Award, a 2016 Tanne Foundation Award recipient, and a 2015 recipient of the Kentucky Foundation for Women’s Artist Enrichment Grant. Lacy Hale is co-founder of EpiCentre Arts, a 2016 Rauschenberg Foundation Seed Grant recipient, based in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Hale has exhibited widely throughout Kentucky and New York City.
William Major is a lens-based media artist that hails from the mountains of northeast Tennessee. Major attended the small liberal arts school, Milligan College, and graduated in 2015 with a BA in photography and humanities. He also received an MFA from the University of Georgia in 2019. Major has shown his work across the southeastern United States as well as exhibiting in New York City, London, and Amsterdam. He had photographs published for the New Yorker and other editorials. He is part of the Looking at Appalachia Collection, the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University, the Art Library at the University of Georgia, and the Ohio State University archives. He is currently based in Harlan, Kentucky.
ArtReach on the Road is directed by Kelly Hider. Hider received her BFA from SUNY Brockport in 2007, and an MFA from the University of Tennessee in 2011. She is a practicing and exhibiting studio artist and has experience teaching a variety of collegiate and K-12 classrooms, including Middle Tennessee State University, Walters State Community College, Summer Art Academy at the Knoxville Museum of Art, and Community Classes for kids and adults at Arrowmont, the Arts & Culture Alliance, and the Knoxville Arts & Fine Craft Center. Previously the gallery manager at Arrowmont, Hider is currently the youth education program manager and is excited about her role working on the ArtReach on the Road initiative.
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 Kelly Hider, youth education program manager, email@example.com.