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Arrowmont Here I Come!

Viewpoint, View from the Classroom »
By Anna Wagner, BFA Studio Art, Emphasis: Ceramics »

Anna Wagner on a piece in the workshop. Photo supplied by Anna Wagner

A Brief History of Arrowmont… In 1912, Arrowmont began as a Pi Beta Phi Settlement School in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. During that time there was no formal schooling in the area. The children and parents from the Settlement School would bring handmade gifts to the teachers as a sign of gratitude. In 1926, Arrowcraft Shop opened for the Appalachian people to put their handmade work on the market. From there the population has grown and the rich history of craft gave the people of Gatlinburg an idea; in 1945, Arrowmont was born and opened their first summer arts and crafts workshops that were taught. From that moment on, the school attracted students and artists all over the world to learn and teach each other about craft.

My Experiences in Arrowmont… This last Spring 2019 semester I was one of two students to receive a matching scholarship from the UCA Art Department and Arrowmont to attend workshops at theArrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It is an honor that both schools saw potential in my work and believed that I would benefit from an experience in this legendary place. As a current senior candidate in the BFA program who will have a Senior Show this semester at the Baum Gallery I knew my time was limited and I couldn’t miss this opportunity! This is the second year that Arrowmont and the UCA art department have partnered up to create scholarships for their students to go to the school. Arrowmont is well known in the art world, they provide tremendous opportunities for students and artists. During the stay, students take part in studio workshops that help gain techinical skill, conceptual sensitivity and lifelong connections with professional artists. This opportunity is a HUGE deal for UCA art students!

Jon McMillan in the middle of demoing. Photo supplied by Anna Wagner

If you have any questions or concerns about what direction you could possibly take after graduation then ask around… the Arrowmont residents, workshop artists, and faculty were very supportive and giving of their time. That’s what they are there for! I was surrounded by extremely intelligent and talented artists from all over the world. One of the many great qualities of Arrowmont is that they love to engage and promote their students. I’ve experienced so much of the contemporary art world just by attending the artists presentations of the professors, residents, and the work-study students at Arrowmont. Being at these Artists Talks opened an endless world of creativity and inspiration for me. It was amazing to be in a community full of people that loved art just like me!

The workshop I toolk was taught by Jon McMillan, “”Building Content Through Form and Surface”” . Breaking through comfort zones is a must in artmaking. If you want to become an artist, you need to let go of what you thought you knew and push through the frustrations of learning something new. I experienced that for myself during Jon McMillan’s course “”Building Content Through Form and Surface””. Jon is a wonderful professor! He was very generous with his knowledge and wisdom of different techniques on hand-building. If you ever needed help, he was always there to guide you. With my previous years of experience with clay, Jon’s techniques have helped me mold my skills as a ceramic artist. I could never thank him enough for that!

Artists NEED other artists to not only grow in their work, but we need to support each other to keep on moving forward. Arrowmont was founded for that reason. It gives me much relief and pleasure knowing that I have a chance to come back and experience it all again. With that, I am certainly planning to apply for a residency there in my future!