Whether you’re here for the first time, or returning for your sixth visit, the John Campbell Folk School is a destination that’s more a state of mind than a place. Sure the food is great and the mountains are beautiful, the people are friendly and the classes engaging…but it’s sort of a Peter Pan kind of place. Each week, more than a hundred grown-ups arrive and leave behind the cares and responsibilities of our adult worlds to play.
Some of my fellow campers this week are taking silk painting in a class called “Going with the Flow” taught by Nancy McKay from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Christie Juhasz from Sarasota, Florida, a “crafter who likes to try lots of different things” told me she’s been to the Folk School eight times. She was painting a brilliant orange flower with shimmering French dye colors when I visited the Fiberarts Studio, a place of relaxed energy with place to spread out. During the rest of the year, Christie runs the reading lab at State College of Florida, but when she’s here, she’s every bit the artist.
Golden fish sketched from a printed design onto silk, then stretched like a trampoline from wooden frames, look lifelike and easy to paint in beautiful watercolor-like patterns. Ann Upton from nearby Asheville, North Carolina is taking her first class this week…she told me she used to quilt and sew but had never tried painting. She saw the description in the catalog when dropping off a friend last year and said “oooh, that looks like such fun.”
Eileen Millard an elementary art teacher, was a student in a class last weekend and this week is helping her sister, Nancy McKay, teach the class. An elementary art teacher, Eileen told me she absolutely loves working with color but normally doesn’t have time to create her own art. The real gift of this place is it “gives us the time, place and permission to be creative and make beautiful things.”