School flourishes with artistic souls

There is a place where you can go, to learn an entire lifetime of basic skills,

There are no crowds, no books, no grades, no pressure and very few frills;

Performing arts, agriculture, cooking and crafts create this magnificent scene,

Along with Bed and Breakfast, away from civilization, raw country pristine;

A getaway, of sorts, a vacation, a hidden haven, but with a different twist,

What is this new and exciting place, you ask, and does it really exist?

     Besides pottery, everything from music, crafts, nature studies, gardening, cooking and dance are taught and practiced at the John C. Campbell Folk School, nestled in a natural country setting located deep in the Southern Appalachian region of Western North Carolina.  Rural life has changed since the school’s inception, but the individual expression and social interaction of life has not. Founded by Olive D. Campbell and Marguerite Butler in 1925, they were inspired by the folkehojskole (folk school) popularity in rural Denmark, Sweden, and how these ‘schools for life’ helped transform the Danish countryside into a vibrant, creative force.

     Developing skills in a noncompetitive, supportive environment are useful correctives to the hard-driven, often dehumanizing, regimentation of much of today’s world.  A vast array of offered subjects can make the decision of what trade to choose, a difficult one.  But as you browse through the endless classes for ideas, there will certainly be a few that overwhelmingly appear a perfect match to your creative senses.

     Chip-bark trails lead through acres of woods and past flowing streams in this enchanted valley.  Hearty home-cooked meals and bluegrass music make camaraderie impossible to refuse.  The School’s Craft Shop is stuffed full of juried work of over 300 local and regional artists and a vast collection of books, a welcome destination in itself.

     A few of the courses include: Blacksmithing, Book Arts, Clay, Cooking, Drawing, Dyeing, Enameling, Folklore, Gardening, Glass, Kaleidoscopes, Lace, Mixed Media, Music, Nature Studies, Needlework, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Spinning, Soap Making, Stone, Storytelling, Weaving, Woodcarving, Woodturning, Writing, Mosaic, Quilting, and Marbling.

     Many classes are limited to twelve students or less, allowing talented instructors ample time to work with each individual.  There are no grades, no credits, no pitting of one individual against another.  This method of teaching is what the Danes called “The Living Word.”  Discussion and conversation, rather than reading and writing, are emphasized and most instruction is hands-on.

     Just want to visit?  Come for the day and meander down the woodland trails and visit their studios where people are creating their own work of art.  Take the journey through time in their History Center, where 20th century Appalachia is on display. Attend an auction or festival that takes place in the fall, winter, summer or spring. 

     An unforgettable learning experience unlike any other is the only way to describe the John C. Campbell Folk School.  Fruitful inner growth and tolerant social development is still possible in a place where history lives…where tradition lingers…where people come together to discover their creative spirit.

     See or call toll free 800.365.5724. They are located in Brasstown, North Carolina.

Photos by Keather Weideman. Originally published in the Potter’s Shed Section of the Art-to-Art Palette Journal.

Published by on September 2012. Filed under Archives, Educator's Row. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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