By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Asheville Art Museum has received a grant to continue collecting and archiving contemporary Cherokee art. The Museum currently has 25 works from Cherokee artisans including baskets, carvings and ceramics.
“The Museum created this project in response to a growing need to document and develop public access to the modern-day evolution of Cherokee craft art heritage, which is a defining part of the cultural heritage of the Blue Ridge region,” said Kathleen Glass, Asheville Art Museum communications manager. “The Museum has developed a multi-faceted approach to accomplishing our two major goals of increasing access to and understanding of Cherokee heritage and contemporary styles of Cherokee art and promoting economic development and sustainability of artists and art institutions in the Qualla Boundary region.”
The $18,000 grant was given by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership (BRNHA) which gives grants to organizations promoting and preserving any of the following areas: agricultural heritage, Cherokee heritage, craft heritage, music heritage, and natural heritage.
“The mission of the Blue Ridge Nation Heritage Area is to preserve, celebrate, to interpret and to sustainably develop heritage resources in western North Carolina for the present day and for future generations,” said Angie Chandler, BRNHA executive director.
She said that the grant to the Asheville Art Museum sets well into the mission of her organization “because it is archiving and preserving collections of contemporary Cherokee art”.
“The goal of that grant is to encourage economic development and sustainability of artisans in Qualla.”
The Asheville Art Museum listed several partners in their grant including Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual Inc., Oconaluftee Indian Village, and the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
“The Cherokee Preservation Foundation was able to support a collaboration between the Asheville Art Museum and Qualla Arts and Crafts that assisted Qualla with improving their marketing and sales web presence as well as highlighting their artists more effectively through artists biographies and backgrounds,” said Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Cherokee Preservation Foundation executive director. “Partnerships like these help CPFdn to leverage resources for Qualla Boundary nonprofits and build mutually beneficial relationships in the region.”
Glass said the Museum hopes to accomplish five specific goals with the project including:
- Complete assessment of Cherokee artwork
- Develop online database of contemporary Cherokee artwork
- Purchase works from regional Cherokee artists
- Present lecture series to promote Cherokee heritage and craft arts
- Present workshops on collections management in Cherokee
“The Museum has, over the past few years, developed a series of exhibitions featuring Cherokee baskets, carving and ceramics,” said Asheville Art Museum curator Frank Thomson. “We are excited about this project because it provides the opportunity to make the world more aware of Cherokee artists, their rich cultural history and their ongoing creativity.”
Chandler related that the BRNHA has been involved in grant-making for 10 years and currently works on an every other year grant cycle. For this current cycle, a total of 18 grants were made totaling $225,000.