Anne Freels and Wingshuck
Media: Natural Materials
I fell in love with corn shuck dolls in 1975, when I learned how to make one in an Appalachian Studies class during my senior year of High School in Oak Ridge, TN. I have been making the dolls ever since that day. I am a full-time craft artists, and have been a member of the Southern Highland Guild since 1989.
Call it fate, call it destiny, call it grace; I call it my saving grace. Because as a teenager, I was restless, bored, trapped in high school with no real plans for the future until I enrolled in an alternative education school for my senior year and chose Appalachian Studies as my history requirement. It was here that I was introduced to the traditional art of corn shuck dolls, and it was like "picking up an electric wire" for me (as my friend Hugh Bailey, the potter and watercolorist put it when he discovered his muse). The connection was powerful for me, and not just because I had found an art form that I was crazy about, but because it linked me to my deep East Tennessee roots, and allowed me to accept and appreciate the Appalachian American in myself. I became a student of the culture instead of a whiner about it. I have been creating figures from corn shucks since 1975, and challenge anyone who claims that you can't learn anything of value in high school! I started selling my work at the Community Craft Co-Op in Norris, TN (now called the Appalachian Arts Craft Center), and attended my first crafts fair in Rugby, TN in 1976. Earlier that same year I attended the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts where I learned more about the art of corn shuck dolls. I am a full-time craft artist, making my living from corn shuck doll creations and handmade herbal soaps, creams and other natural aromatherapy products. You are invited to browse through my web page and discover the joy of keeping this Appalachian art alive.