Join us for our second installment of our Traditional Craft Mentorship Program! These two-week series are an opportunity for emerging artists to spend time at the Folk School learning from master artisans. Small groups of participants will join in focused sessions that enhance their interests, knowledge, and skills in traditional Appalachian craft, music or dance. Areas of study for 2022 include Cooking, Folklore and Woodcarving, and Folklore and Music.

Read below to learn more about each session, and how to apply. For additional information on the Mentorship program, visit our About page.

Appalachian Foodways

Terra Ciotta and Paul Malcolm

Immerse yourself in the Appalachian kitchen. Spend one week developing the hands-on skills needed to comfortably butcher and process poultry, rabbit, venison, and pork and a second week expanding your food preservation skillset. Practice drying, fermenting, and canning a variety of local produce from the Folk School grounds and regional farms. Explore historical and modern methods of preservation and gain the knowledge you need to create value-added products for your business.

Young professionals, cooks, farmers, and artisanal producers who are interested in deepening their knowledge of traditional Appalachian foodways are invited to apply.

Terra Ciotta

Terra moved to Murphy, North Carolina, in August 2018 to take over the Culinary program at Tri-County Community College, where she develops and manages the broad curriculum, as well as teaches all classes. Prior to moving to Murphy, she was a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Charlotte. Terra partnered with the Folk School in February 2019 as Resident Artist of the Cooking program. With over 20 years of experience in professional kitchens, plus 10 years in post-secondary culinary instruction, she offers a well-developed blend of food and teaching skills to help students develop their own cooking talents. Chef Terra’s particular culinary interests include local foods, history and culture, fine dining, and traditional cooking techniques.

Photo courtesy of Johnson & Wales University

Paul Malcolm

Paul’s passion for food and cooking was fueled at an early age by his grandmother. She would ask what he had dreamed about the night before then, armed with a cast iron skillet, pancake batter, and a Folgers coffee can of rendered bacon fat, she would make his dreams come to life. Dinosaur dreams meant dinosaur pancakes. Same for clowns. It was the magic his grandmother created in the skillet that inspired Malcolm to become a chef. He has worked in the food service industry for most of his life – from bakeries and 5-diamond hotels to consulting and working as a private chef. Paul has also been an executive chef, a baker, a butcher, and a natural soap maker.

Carving Traditions of Western North Carolina

Helen Gibson & Bud Smith

Explore the connections between two culturally distinct woodcarving traditions: The Brasstown Carvers and The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Study with master artists who have spent their lives immersed in their local carving heritage. Practice knife work to better grasp the intricacies of forms, tools, and techniques that distinguish these carving styles. Along with technical instruction in three-dimensional and relief carving, mentors will share their personal experiences growing up and developing as artists within their carving communities, offering unique oral histories that shed light on the aesthetic and cultural background of their traditions.

Field trips will help students understand how carvers have drawn inspiration from the geography and wildlife of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Carving projects in both traditions will be explored, including figurines and masks. Students will enjoy a unique opportunity to expand their understanding of the cultural importance of craft in Appalachia while gaining practical woodcarving skills.

Helen Gibson

Helen has been the Folk School’s Resident Woodcarver since 1990 and is a Brasstown Carver in the famed local tradition. She studied with Jack Hall and is one of the few instructors who still carves and teaches the Brasstown Nativity figures she illustrates in her books, “Carving the Nativity” and “The Animals of the Nativity.” These, along with her books on carving Moses and St. Francis of Assisi, depict her highly detailed style of carving in the round. Helen teaches workshops throughout the Southeast.

James “Bud” Smith

Bud carves wood into bears, birds, and other lively figures. He teaches workshops in woodcarving, demonstrates carving, and also exhibits his work. “I consider woodcarving a fine art, not a craft,” Smith says. Bud grew up in the Big Y community of the Qualla Boundary and graduated from Cherokee High School, where he learned to carve from Amanda Crowe. Smith’s carvings, in a variety of woods, have been widely exhibited and have received recognition nationally. He has exhibited at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Dallas Art Market, the Albuquerque Cultural Center, the Giduwah Festival in Asheville, and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. He has taught carving at the Cherokee Heritage Weekend of the Swannanoa Gathering and in other settings. Bud has also completed a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Oakland City University.

Visit Bud’s website.

Songs and Stories of Olive Dame Campbell

Alex Cumming

The John C. Campbell Folk School was founded in 1925 by education reformist and folk song collector Olive Dame Campbell. She was key to the folk music revival of the early 1900s and helped preserve hundreds of folk songs and arts for future generations. Delve into her archives and other Appalachian manuscripts to learn how these songs were once sung, their historical context, and collecting techniques.

Explore the Folk School archives and visit other local collections and key historical locations. Adapt these songs for a modern audience through rewriting lyrics and rearranging the melody, both in ways that will complement the stories. Explore how nature, history, and folklore can inspire modern compositions in the form of instrumentals and songs.

This musical immersion is best suited for singers who also play instruments.

Alex Cumming

Alex is a singer, accordionist, pianist, and dance caller hailing from Somerset, UK, now living in Greater Boston, MA. He performs songs and tunes from around the United Kingdom and America with a great depth of knowledge of the tradition. Alex has made his mark on the folk scene with his rhythmic danceable accordion style, strong voice, and his fun and engaging stage presence.

Visit Alex’s website.

John C. Campbell Folk School
About John C. Campbell Folk School

The Folk School transforms lives, bringing people together in a nurturing environment for experiences in learning and community life that spark self-discovery. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing.