Roots in the Guild: 9 Women Artists Today
New Directions: 9 Guild members explore their creative evolution’s relationship to community
Written by member Jim Gentry, past Executive Director and Education Director
Nine words that came to mind as I began to consider a statement for this exhibition by nine women artists.
FRIENDSHIP, COMMUNITY, INNOVATION, INSPIRATION, EMPATHY, TEAMWORK, CREATIVE, EVOLUTION, CONTEMPORARY
Women who were linked by geography, youth, creativity, a love of visual arts and an organization, Southern Highland Craft Guild. All, once living in Knoxville, routinely gathered to share work, inspiration, and, no doubt, day-to-day concerns. The result, lasting friendships which have weathered decades.
My relationship with these individuals was as fellow artist, as well as an employee of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, to which the majority became members. During the 70’s the Guild was undergoing rapid change. A dichotomy existed within the organization relative to traditional and modern/contemporary. A number of these individuals represented change and growth within the Guild; a positive catalyst, if you will, for an expanded vision of what the Guild, founded in 1930, might become. During this growth and change, I recall that each honored the traditions of the Guild, to revive and preserve the indigenous crafts, while encouraging contemporary development. All were contributors to growth and excellence of the organization; not only through unique creations but through service on Guild committees and the Board of Trustees.
Today, though a number of the women call Knoxville, TN home, many are spread across the U.S. This exhibit is a testament to their enduring friendships, dedication to personal goals and love of media resulting in this noteworthy and historic exhibition at the Focus Gallery at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Asheville, NC.
Finally, I feel it important to acknowledge this model of friendship is likely repeated numerous times today as we live in a world of studio cooperatives, artists districts and the omnipresent cyberworld of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Only time will tell if any will be as enduring as that of the nine women whom we celebrate in this exhibition.