Documentary Storytelling: New Class by Local Photographer

Eleanor Koch, from Nashville, TN, came to the Folk School as a work study student during her gap year after studying permaculture and sustainable agriculture in Israel. After her time at the Folk School, she began her freshman year at Warren Wilson College. Photo by Darcy Holdorf.
Tammy Elwell from Oak Park, Minnesota has been a work study student and a host at the Folk School. During her recent time as a host she studied glass beads, book arts and broom making. She also participated in our Thursday night woodcarving class. She asked to be photographed with Chester the Squirrel carved by Richard Carter. Tammy’s passion and joy on the dance floor are infectious! Photo by Darcy Holdorf.

These images were made during my time working as a Sales Associate in the Folk School Craft Shop. The series began as a way to recognize the work study students and hosts who come and go from the Folk School so quickly, yet are a vital part of what we do. I was curious about their lives, before and after the Folk School. I invited work study students to visit the Craft Shop and pick out work that spoke to them for a portrait shoot. This allowed me to share a bit of their personal story while also highlighting work by the talented artists we carry in the shop. When I didn’t have work study students to photograph, I started inviting Folk School staff to participate and the scope of the project grew.

An unintended result of the fashion shoots is that they helped build friendships between the Craft Shop team and other members of the Folk School staff. Everyone who works in the Craft Shop joined in to help style the models and, in the process, we all got to know each other better.

Continue reading Documentary Storytelling: New Class by Local Photographer

Studio Batik with Jessica Kaufman

Photo by Nicole McConville

Have you ever wanted to try batik and hand-dyeing? We have a very special surface design class coming up on April 7–13, 2019 with Jessica Kaufman: Studio Batik: Many Techniques, Amazing Results. Jessica has studied batik methods from Indonesia and India and is the owner of WAXON Batik & Dye Studio in Asheville, NC. With over 16 years of teaching experience and an MA in crafts education, Jessica has taught batik and tie-dye to summer campers, school children, high schoolers, and adults all over the country. We are lucky to have her for a week-long intensive focusing on this gorgeous and functional art form. Enjoy our interview!

Photo by Nicole McConville

CP: When did you first come to the Folk School? When were you a host?

JK: I grew up with relatives in Penland and would visit the school for community days, but couldn’t align my work schedule in a way that would allow me to take a class there when I was a young full-time teacher. Someone suggested I take a look at the John C. Campbell Folk School and it was absolute love at first sight. The week-long classes, offered year-round, were a dream come true.

I saved my pennies and booked a clay class over my spring break in 2005. I was teaching in a Haywood County public school and this class just lined up with my vacation days. Ted Cooley was our class assistant and two young women I knew from Asheville were the Hosts. I immediately saw the potential for myself there. I took a few more classes as a student, and then, in 2009, I served six months as Host. I was the last six-month host (the school went to a four-month system after that) but I wished it was still a 2-year position, as it was in Ellie Wilson’s time. I would have signed up instantly for that! Continue reading Studio Batik with Jessica Kaufman

Meet Host Donna Glee Williams

Donna Glee’s felted creations from the class “Nuno-felt Collage” with Liz Spear & Neal Howard

Our current host, Donna Glee Williams, is a writer of fantasies for the teenager in all of us, as well as being a seminar leader, dream worker, and creative coach. She has recently published two novels and her work has been featured in anthologies, literary magazines, academic journals, spoken-word podcasts, and more. She even came to the rescue and taught a recent weekend writing class at the Folk School when the scheduled instructor cancelled at the last minute. The hosts at the Folk School keep the show running smoothly and they are fully involved in the daily life of the School for a four month period. Without further ado, let’s get to know Donna Glee!

CP: What first brought you to the Folk School?

Donna Glee Williams outside of Keith House with her book, the Braided Path
Donna Glee Williams outside of Keith House with her most recent book, Dreamers

DGW: From 1994 to 2015, I worked at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching and we created weeklong intensive seminars for public school teachers in all manner of subjects with the goal of helping them reconnect with their passion, pride, and love of teaching. In that time, I worked with many fabulous local craft artists. I wanted come learn about this resource that was so close and make connections with the people here who could be possible presenters for my teachers. That’s what got me to the Folk School for the first time.

CP: What inspired you to apply for the Host position?

DGW: When I left my job to be a full-time writer, I knew I wanted to add craft adventures to my life. I wanted to continue to work with top craftspeople and have these experiences of the hand that by some mysterious alchemy wind up coming out as material in my books.

Living the life of the full-time writer, I knew I would not have the funds to make that happen, so the host position was an ideal program for me. I don’t know how what I learn here will come out in a book, but there is a strong likelihood that it will. Right now, I am working on a book that is the residue of an experience I had in 2008 when I was a Fulbright fellow and went to India to study certain small, desperately poor communities are declaring independence from pesticide use and raising cotton without chemicals. Fiber arts have often been a focus in my work. Continue reading Meet Host Donna Glee Williams

Corinna Rose and Leah Dolgoy to Play Special Monday Night Concert

Leah & Corinna Rose. Image is a video still from a project byl Grace Glowicki.
Leah & Corinna Rose. Image is a video still from a project by Grace Glowicki.

Please join us Monday March 2nd at 7 p.m. in the Keith House Community Room for a free Monday night concert that welcomes Montreal acoustic folk duo Corinna Rose and Leah Dolgoy for their first appearance together at the Folk School.

While this will be Corinna’s first Folk School experience, we are delighted to welcome back two-time student host, Leah Dolgoy and to see how her Folk School mountain musical education weaves its way into her Montreal-based indy-folk project. I caught up with Leah to ask her a little bit about this:

Cory Marie: Leah! We are so excited that you are coming to see us. We’ve missed you! Tell me about your band and what you’ve been up to.

Leah: Corinna and I have been playing together for five years and have been touring together for nearly as long. We’ve recorded two studio albums with a larger ensemble and one acoustic EP that we put together live of just the two of us. We are heading back into studio to record our second acoustic EP at the end of March. I love the direction of Corinna’s songwriting and it’s been inspiring for me to push the boundaries of my main instrument (autoharp) as well as to incorporate my Folk School musical knowledge and training on folk harp into her new material. I think the sweet little Campbellin I made in John Huron’s class last year might even make an appearance on the new record. The Folk School has had such a profound influence on my life and way of seeing the world. I know that this is reflected in the music we play in all sorts of ways. Next Monday, we’ll probably even play a few tunes that I learned in Brasstown and taught to Corinna.

Continue reading Corinna Rose and Leah Dolgoy to Play Special Monday Night Concert

The Wonderful Illustrated World of Host Sara Boggs

Painting by Sara Boggs

Every time I see Sara Boggs around campus, like a giddy child, I ask her: “Can I see your sketchbook?” She always says “yes.” You see, Sara is one of those artists who constantly carries her handmade sketchbook around, capturing tiny moments of life here and there – taking the time to practice and develop her drawing ability everyday. It has been incredible to see her book grow with the faces, places, and the spirit of the Folk School during her host term this fall. She permitted me to scan in some pages from her book to share with you. We also sat down over cookies and tea to talk about her experience as host and artistic journaler.

Sara in the Folk School Painting Studio
Sara in the Folk School Painting Studio

CP: You were recently a character in the night of Holiday Revelry hosted by David Vowell. Who did you play?

SB: I got to play a couple of different characters: an all around reveler drinking wassail, the Little Pickle Boy in one of the tales about St. Nicholas, and Jack the Green in the mummer’s play. Jack’s character is traditionally full of mischief! In our play, Jack the Green saves the day in the story of St. George and the Dragon.

CP: Very nice. So you are wrapping up your host term at the Folk School? What’s been your favorite part of being host? 

SB: It’s the people… it’s for sure the people. Every week, I get to meet all of these wonderful people with amazing stories and wonderful things that they have done. They are all so sweet and encouraging – they make me feel like this world we have here that’s not quite real life – this fairy tale world that’s all fiddle music and blacksmith coal – is something that we can carry always. It’s been really wonderful to meet them all.

CP: Do you have any specific memories that resonate with you?

SB: There have been quite a few. Maybe it was because it was so early on in my time here, but one that sticks out is a magical cooking class dinner party. The class was a wood fired cooking class and they had their Thursday night dinner outside on picnic tables, with candle light torches. There was wine, and ukelele music, and a beautiful pink sunset overhead… little dogs came wandering through. It was slow and delicious. I wasn’t even supposed to be there, I was just crashing, but they let me crash. It was a lovely evening and I felt like it was the right way to start off my foot here.

Page from Sarah's sketchbook: Thursday night dinner party for the Cooking Class
Page from Sara’s sketchbook: Thursday night dinner party for the Cooking Class

Continue reading The Wonderful Illustrated World of Host Sara Boggs