Exhibit: Folk Art of Southern Appalachia

On exhibit at Pack Memorial Library: “Folk Art of Southern Appalachia.”



“Folk artists thrive in North Carolina, evolving through self-instruction and emulation of the work of others as well as upholding traditional methods of craft passed down through the generations.”

Piece by Russell Gillespie, born in WNC in 1922. Some of Gillespie’s work is held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“While a consensus definition is difficult, folk art generally refers to work done by untrained, nonacademic artists and most often involves a decorative item with minor practical use, made utilizing traditional or family methods with the intent of creating an aesthetically pleasing yet singular artistic piece. The artwork, whether a sculpture, gravestone, or model boat, rises above mere functionality.” [NCPedia, Folk Art by Philip McFee and Bruce E. Baker, 2006.]


This high standing rooster is fashioned from a twig with intersecting limbs. Many people made them, including W.P. Smith who was from the Deaverview Road area. The rooster was one of his most popular small pieces and has since become a collector’s items. Smith was at many of the Southern Highland Craftsman’s Fairs of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite a physical disability that left him unable to walk, he made a good living from his carvings.

This is my favorite piece in the exhibit.

Many items express the creative mind of the maker.

How did those arrows get through the piece of wood?

These three pieces show how the third item at top was made–though I’ve stared at them and still don’t get it.


The objects in this exhibit all reflect on the natural world, are often good-humored, seem honest, forthright and are inspiring.

Signed on bottom, “Ray Fisher.”

What would you make out of this burl?


This exhibit showcases three cases, one at the main entrance to Pack, one on left as you enter the library at the Circulation Desk, and one downstairs in front of the North Carolina Room.

The North Carolina Room is grateful to Pat Fitzpatrick and Lynne and Jim Wilson for loaning these items.


Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian








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