With a degree in printmaking, years of creative programming in Boston and Michigan, and five months on staff at Arrowmont, Kimberly Mills is ready to hit the road.
As the educational outreach coordinator, Mills is spearheading the expansion of ArtReach to central Appalachia in six states, including Tennessee. ArtReach on the Road is part of Preserving and Teaching Traditional Appalachian Craft, Arrowmont’s initiative facilitating the transfer of traditional Appalachian crafts and cultural heritage knowledge between generations. Mills draws on her studio technician experience and her background in K-12 museum outreach in her new role.
“Arrowmont has always had a great reputation for expansive programming; offering lots of different classes for a wide range of artists and makers,” Mills said of her interest in working at Arrowmont. “Once I saw this position available, I appreciated the chance to be part of the expansion of programming here on campus.”
Mills grew up helping her family raise and train quarter horses near Grand Rapids, Michigan. A love of art, curation and community engagement inspired her to earn an Associates in Fine Art at Lake Michigan College and a BFA in Printmaking from Kendall College of Art and Design. Mills spent four years working for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Boston Center for the Arts. Prior to her position at Arrowmont, Mills managed the Studio Experience at Grand Rapids Art Museum. Her work in the museum sector introduced her to creative programming for school-aged children, which Mills applies to establishing ArtReach on the Road.
Mills connects the revival of utilitarian printmaking processes, like letterpress or lithography, with the goals of ArtReach on the Road. “As a printmaker, it’s nice to work in a practice like Appalachian crafts that has such a history,” she said. “At one point people were practicing it as a means of necessity. Now, that dialogue has changed and we’re seeing it revived in appreciation for what it once was, what it could be and what it might be in the future.”
Loaded with a utility van full of craft supplies and equipment, Mills will head to Campbell County, Tennessee for the inaugural week of ArtReach on the Road in February 2019. Area schools will send up to 75 students each day to learn traditional Appalachian crafts from local artists. They will get hands-on art instruction in pottery, woodturning and woodworking, basketry, and quilting. Mills is most eager to see the transformative experience for kids when they learn a new craft. “Seeing the interaction between artist and student is always surprising and very enriching,” she said. “When kids learn a new skill – you see them put their hands on it, learn, and walk away with a project to take home – that is a big part of ArtReach on the Road, and I’m excited! I’m really looking forward to seeing that.”
For questions or more information on ArtReach on the Road, contact:
Kimberly Mills, Educational Outreach Coordinator and Studio Technician
865-436-5860 x 34