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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…]

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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



Pattie, Mark & Jack in the WREK Studio

Did you get a chance to listen to the interview about the Folk School with Pattie Bagley, Mark Hendry and Jack Smoot on The Avenue Lounge Show on WREK Radio 91.1 FM, Atlanta, GA? If you missed the live show modern technology has preserved the interview for all to enjoy, at any time, here on Soundcloud. Learn about some Folk School history and also about Pattie, Mark, and Jack’s personal stories and experiences.

It just so happens that all three instructors featured in the interview are here teaching this week. Pattie (assisted by Mark) is teaching “Baskets of the Folk School,” and Jack is teaching “Build a Short-scale Mountain Dulcimer.” I wanted to take a moment to thank all three of these Folk School folks for their endless commitment to promoting and supporting the School.

Listen to the radio show with Pattie, Mark & Jack!

The North Avenue Lounge is WREK’s interview show. A big thanks to host Amanda Plumb for featuring the Folk School on the show.

In addition to teaching several times a year, Pattie Bagley is the Resident Artist for Basketry. You can also find her often in the Blacksmithing Shop working at the anvil. Pattie is involved in many Folk School activities and we are so lucky to have her here in the Folk School Community.

In addition to teaching woodworking, Jack Smoot is also on the Folk School Board of Directors. We thank him for all his hard work and always bringing a smile with his love of the rubber chicken.

Mark Hendry has been teaching both basketry and traditional broom making at the Folk School for many years. Mark regularly donates his time to do demonstrations of broom making for events like Fall Festival, Bear on the Square, and Mother Earth News Fair. Pattie and Mark are going to be demonstrating at this year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool festival, May 5 & 6. A big thanks to Mark for all he does for the Folk School!


I met with chef Patrick O’Cain at his popular Asheville restaurant, Gàn Shān Station, to interview him about his upcoming class at the Folk School, The Modern Asian Kitchen. We are so excited and lucky to have him come to Brasstown, April 29–May 5, to share his knowledge of Asian cooking. Don’t miss this chance to learn from a renowned and celebrated Asheville chef and immerse yourself in the cooking cultures of China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and beyond. Enjoy our interview to learn more about Patrick and his class!

All photos courtesy of Patrick O’Cain and Gàn Shān Station.

Learn to make dumplings

CP: Tell me about your class. What will you be doing?

PO: The class is intended to be a general introduction to modern Asian cooking. We will have some basic set up and technique, and then get into some of the stuff we get into here in the restaurant, which is regional Asian. Gàn Shān Station focuses on all of East Asia, which gives us a huge array of dishes to choose from. My idea is to go into some of the main avenues of Asian cooking and also into an understanding of the food histories of these cultures. China is a main hub where everything comes in and out of in terms of Asian culinary tradition. Over time, countries and regions have had invasions and migrations. People from one culture bring their traditions including those of food. There’s a lot interconnectedness, which is prevalent in food culture all around the world.

CP: Who is the ideal student for your class?

PO: The ideal student would be someone with a good base in cooking experience who appreciates a bold palate. We will have a whole section of cooking rice; rice is a big deal in South Asia. Most of the food we will be making will have bold flavors and then be tempered by rice. That’s how the dishes are meant to be eaten. You take equal, or even greater portions, of rice with smaller portions of protein. If you are interested in Asian cooking and you like deep rich flavors with a little spice, this is the class for you. It’s intense food. Students will learn new techniques that they can take home an apply to lots of different things. [click to continue…]