By Emma Castleberry
Each year, the Southern Highland Craft Guild (SHCG) holds several rounds of its Standards Jury process: a rigorous, two-part entrance procedure for new members. Craftspeople have the opportunity to jury into 11 different media spanning both traditional and contemporary work. As the most recent result of this process, the SHCG will enter 2018 with nine new member artists: Dana Claire in fiber, Gina Eubank in jewelry, Hollis Fouts in paper, Chad Alice Hagen in paper, Joel Hunnicutt in wood, Jeri Landers in her second medium of fiber, Holland Van Gores in wood, Kami Watson in fiber and Joanna White in fiber.
White uses the batik dying process on silk to create wearable art. After hand painting the fabric using soy wax and French acid dyes, she uses steam to remove the wax and set the dyes, creating a garment that can be washed and worn regularly. For White, acceptance to the SHCG is the realization of a decades-long dream. “I began weaving in Asheville in the late 1970s,” she says, “and 40 years later, I find myself returning to the mountains and to the artistic guild that I love. Membership in our prestigious guild is an endorsement of an artist’s skill.”
Van Gores relocated with his family five years ago from the US Virgin Islands to Western North Carolina. In doing so, Van Gores left behind his reputation and profession as an accomplished homebuilder. “It was necessary to reinvent myself in an area of the country where no one knew what I was capable of,” he says. After the move, Van Gores began to explore his identity as a wood artist, building a woodworking studio and gaining a gallery presence in the area. While he enjoys the natural color and beauty of wood grain, Van Gores also experiments with a variety of added colors, textures and finishes in his art.
Van Gores applied to the SHCG at the suggestion of several artist colleagues. Upon learning of his acceptance, his primary emotion was pride. “It was a solid validation of my work that went beyond family, friends and gallery visitors,” he says. “I was now part of something much larger, something that had respect, admiration and quality associated with the name. I felt as though I was gaining back some of the identity I had previously left behind.”
SHCG is a nonprofit, educational organization established in 1930 to cultivate the crafts and makers of the Southern Highlands for the purpose of shared resources, education, marketing and conservation. The work of member artists can be seen at the Folk Art Center, located at Milepost 382 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., January through March, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., April through December. Learn more at craftguild.org.