Subscribe in a reader

Executive Director and Auction Emcee Jerry Jackson welcomes a full house for the live auction.

The 2018 Gala & Benefit Auction brought close to 200 Folk School friends together for a lively evening of bidding, mingling, and entertainment. The event, an annual highlight in our community, featured offerings by artists and donors as near as Brasstown and as far away as Belgium.

Chef Jarrett Palmer fills the Olive Dame Campbell Dining Hall with delicious treats from the forthcoming Folk School Cookbook.

Musicians Annie Fain Barralon and Jonah Graves welcomed guests to the first part of the evening with traditional mountain music on the porch of Olive Dame Campbell Dining Hall. Through the screened porch door, folks were treated to their first glimpse of a stunning display of over 100 silent auction pieces in a variety of mediums, from jewelry and paintings to baskets and pottery. Attendees also dined on featured dishes from the forthcoming Folk School Cookbook, including “Mushroom Turnovers” and “Cheese Pennies and Stars with Green Tomato Marmalade.”

During the second portion of the evening, guests were invited to the historic Keith House to view and bid on nearly 50 unique pieces from artists and other Folk School supporters. Throughout the live auction, solo auctioneer and longtime Folk School friend Tim Ryan kept the crowd engaged and entertained with his signature wit and charm. [click to continue…]




Tim Ryan with a bonsai tree

Tim Ryan will be our auctioneer at our Gala & Benefit Auction this Saturday. Tim has been involved in the Folk School in so many different ways: instructor, Folk School Board member (1994-2004), Resident Artist in Gardening and Homesteading (2000-2015), storyteller, gardener, auctioneer, kettle cooker, and blacksmith. Let’s get to know him a little bit better!

CP: Let’s talk about auctions since the Gala & Benefit Auction is this Saturday. How did you get into auctioneering?

TR: Benefit auctioning is a niche. I got into it because of Jim Batson, who teaches knife making here at the Folk School. Years ago, at the 2nd Alabama Blacksmith reunion, I took a green coal class and made a great poker with a wizard head on the end. I was finishing the project up and was so proud of it. My instructor came over and picked it up and said, “This is going to sell so good at the auction tonight.” I said, “WHAT?!?” He said, “Oh, you didn’t know? Everything we make in green coal we donate to the auctions to fray the cost of the conference.” I really could have cried. [click to continue…]


Gala & Benefit Auction: June 2

by Cory Marie Podielski on May 24, 2018

in Community Events

Join us for an evening of friendly camaraderie, delicious food and drinks, and live music. Our annual Gala & Benefit Auction will take place Saturday, June 2 from 5–8 p.m. You’ll help support the Folk School’s programs by purchasing fine craft, art and other unique items donated by talented friends of the school during our live and silent auctions.

Visit our auction website for more information and to see a preview or the auction items.


Do you have a basic understanding of your DSLR camera and want to learn more in-depth techniques for improving your photography? Check out The Photographic Tool Box on July 22–27, 2018 with instructor Stephanie Gross. Summertime at the Folk School provides an abundance of photographic material: pastoral landscapes, interesting folks, gardens, old buildings, barns, music, dance, craft studios. Stephanie has a BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and has been making and thinking about photography for 25 years. Enjoy our interview!

CP: How did you get started in photography?

SG: I had an amazing photography teacher in high school who is an incredible photographer and was also a great teacher (not always the case). We’re still friends  and I occasionally shoot with him. I assisted him after I graduated high school, through college.

I was interested in both photography and ceramics. I chose RISD because I could do both. I could make pots, but they were a creative dead end for me. Photography was scary and I had to struggle to learn to make pictures, but it’s been that struggle that’s kept me interested for 30+ years.

CP: What is your favorite subject matter to shoot?

SG: Stories, specifically people with stories. I suppose that’s anyone from the right point of view, but it’s more the search for what makes someone or some place interesting that’s my favorite.

Even in the most boring situations, I start to look at faces, at the light, playing with the background, composition, etc. It’s like a game. You know something fascinating is going on, but how do you show it? [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Corie Pressley has lived in tiny Brasstown, North Carolina, all her 21 young years. She commuted to college for two years but this scenic Appalachian community is where she’s grown up, developed, and matured. You might think her life experiences have been limited in this small town.

But that’s where you’d be wrong.

Corie has seen the world in a grain of sand—just like many others who have spent time at John C. Campbell Folk School. She has learned that self-discovery and personal growth are not contingent on traveling the world in a literal sense. Her worldliness comes from within—and from her time growing up in the Folk School’s community of lifelong learners from all corners of the earth.

Her youthful wisdom tells her she has found her place, her home, her sense of purpose. It’s here in the mountains of western North Carolina, in a remote, isolated corner of the world that, ironically, she has learned to be open-minded, creative and adventuresome.

“I can’t imagine working anywhere else,” says Corie, who joined the Folk School’s programming department just last July. “I get to be a small part of making someone’s week here something they’ll never forget. This place has taught me to think critically and to think about things on a deeper level. It’s helped me see things in a creative light and allowed me to learn how to be around other people in the world without being judgmental.”

“Being here, I am discovering just how much there is to learn. How much there is to
experience in life.”

Corie’s family has been connected to the Folk School for at least four generations. Her grandfather Jerry Wilson and his brother Ray, both accomplished in old-time music traditions, made an award-winning recording at the school. Her great-aunt worked in the Craft Shop. As a young girl, Corie attended the Folk School’s Little Middle programs, and danced with the Folk School Cloggers at the yearly Fall Festival.

Corie credits the school with inspiring her and Katie, her twin sister, to pursue their music. As The Pressley Girls, they often play for Morning Song at the Folk School, as well as at festivals, events, and fundraisers. Corie doesn’t read music but learned to play knee-to-knee with her family members. “I’m so grateful for that influence,” she says.

Corie is thankful for her upbringing in Brasstown and is determined to preserve her Appalachian heritage through her music and her work for the school.

“The Folk School is preserving mountain traditions,” she explains. “I think people are drawn to the Folk School because of this. They know they’re a part of something much bigger, part of something that’s been here for generations.”

Corie hopes to encourage younger people to come to the Folk School. “We need them to come learn and understand how important it is to carry on these mountain traditions. To make things and take part in something bigger than yourself.”

We hope you enjoyed reading about how the Folk School has influenced Corie. We are collecting stories for our archives. If you have a Folk School story you would like to share, please email



Dear Folk School Friend,

I’ve mentioned Corie Pressley to you in my previous letters because I think she embodies the profoundly positive influences the Folk School often has on people’s lives. Her familiar story will likely resonate with those of you who feel as though you’re coming home each time you arrive at the Folk School.

Folks come to this rural mountain community, entering the peaceful campus of John C. Campbell Folk School, to spend their days exploring the meditative, the creative, and the productive. They venture outside their comfort zones in small, almost indecipherable ways. And out of this quiet bubble of time, they experience an openness to ideas, form new life-long friendships, and discover just how much they can learn.

We believe helping people flourish is important work.

Your gift to the Folk School—regardless of the amount—makes a huge difference. Your support helps us develop programming, care for our beautiful campus, equip studios, provide learning scholarships and pass along Appalachian traditions to our Little Middle Folk School students.

Please help us sustain the Folk School for the future so that others might discover their own unique grain of sand that lies within.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
–William Blake





Jerry Jackson