Friday, August 23, 2013

Arrowmont In Review - Off the Wall Friday

Its taken a week, but finally I think I seem to be getting back into my normal routine.  Vacations always seem to throw us off, right?!  But a week at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts can really throw you for a loop.  Why??  Well. . . .  there are a lot of why's.. . . 

Why does a person take a week off from work . . . . . pay $1,000+ . . . . buy a list of supplies. . . . .drive 10 hrs. . . .shlep all her stuff. . .create in front of perfect strangers and just generally leave the comforts and safety of a home studio?  Well to have her life changed - that's why.

Teacher's Cottage with its wonderful porch
Arrowmont was the first Arts and Crafts School I've attended.  Normally, my creative vacation consisted of a week long class at a quilt conference filled with other like minded quilters who are more or less all on the same level  as I am.  We eat, sleep, breath quilts for a whole week.  Which is great - comfortable - familiar.

Arrowmont is not like that.  During my week there, they gathered 70 other artisans from the base beginners to  the most advanced.  They all specialized in different media including woodworking, fiber, glass, clay, metal and ecaustics. They were all ages (from teens through Seniors) - all walks of life.  Really - the only thing that we all had in common was that we all love to create so much  so that we took the plunge into Arrowmont.

And what a plunge it was.  From the moment, you enter campus you can tell its different.  I stayed in a comfortable room in Teacher's Cottage (not where the teachers stayed btw).  My  rustic room with its double bed reminded me of when you go to stay at your gram's house.  It was comfortable and quiet all week complete with WiFi and air conditioning.  Not that I spent much time there.  I tended to get home after 11pm every night and left about 6:30 every morning.  On Friday night, with my studio all packed up for my trip home, I finally discovered the wonderful screened porch .  Rocking chairs are very therapeutic!



I loved the walk to studio every morning.  This path lead to the main building going between other dorm cottages and the clay studio.  Since Teacher's was only a quick 5 min walk from the main building  - if I wanted to run back to my room during the day it was no big deal.  Nor was it any big deal to walk back at night since there were always people around - including those you could look in on in the Clay studio.  (I really did feel like I was a peeper each night).  Even though Arrowmont's campus is a half block from downtown touristy Gatlinburg you definitely feel like you are in the middle of the Smokey Mountains.

Once you got into the main building, you would walk through the lovely gallery which hosts different shows throughout the year.  The Teacher's exhibit was showing while I was there.  You can see Elin Noble's piece at the front of the gallery and a peak of Elizabeth Barton's off to the far right.  Even though I looked  at the show thoroughly the first afternoon, I seemed to find something that caught my eye or fueled my creativity every day.  The gallery  even hosts a wonderful fountain where the sounds of the water was very soothing after a long day of creating.


My classroom, the fiber studio was right off the gallery with restrooms conveniently nearby.  The studio hosted 5 large sinks, a washer and dryer, large padded tables, lots and lots of natural light and really all the equipment a would be surface designer could want.  They even have Bernina sewing machines there if you don't want to lug your own (which of course I did - LOL).  Design boards were brought in though one wall has its own.  For the most part, my fellow students were  quiet and focused.  Normally, I find at quilt conference that ladies spend a lot of time chatting and socializing.  Not this bunch - yes they were friendly  - but you could tell they were there to work.  I never had any problem finding someone who wanted to work late like I did.  Elizabeth even worked hard coming back into studio a couple a times each night to make sure nobody had any questions.

Classes started Sunday night - which was great since you could get through all the introductions then and get right after creating first thing Monday morning.  There was programs three nights where the teacher's took turns giving a short chat on their work - which was fascinating.  Arrowmont also hosted several resident artists studying long term in their chosen media.  I got to see the work of fiber artist Rena Wood, whose work is really amazing.  I'm sure we'll be hearing more from her in the coming years.

The main building also hosts a wonderful bookstore and art supply store, Arrowmonts' amazing library which is open 7 am - 1 am everyday for everyone to enjoy and a 24 hr lounge which hosts tv, games, snacks etc (the coffee and tea were a welcome relief!)

The wonderful dining hall
Not to be outdone by the wonderful studios and grounds, is their dining room.  There we ate 3 yummy meals a day.  I  can't tell you what a treat it was knowing that when you walked in you were going to be served some kind of  honest-to-goodness home-style cooking that you wish you had room for more of.  The fresh vegetables and delicious deserts were a special treat.  Plus you never knew who you were going to be eating with.  Meal time was a great time to learn what everyone else was doing or where everyone else came from.  Interesting!

So...... that is why a person would spend all year planning to go away for one week of a life changing experience.  I would highly suggest anybody take the same plunge that I did to either study more of their chosen medium or to explore a new one.  Classes for next year are announced in January.  There are scholarships available (I was blessed with one!) and work study programs.  There is even continuing education credit for teachers.  Check out their website for more info!   
Feel free to email me questions.

So now that you got the full picture of where I was all last week -


What have you been up to creatively?

21 comments:

Karol Kusmaul said...

Sounds like a perfectly wonderful time to me. I have been attending a retreat called Focus on Fiber in New Smyrna Beach, FL in March. It sounds very much the same type of experience.

Please notice that I was NOT the last one to link up this week, as I usually am!!

Lisa said...

That looks like so much fun Nina-Marie! So glad you had a great time. Funny how we always need a vacation after our vacation!

Sherrie Spangler said...

This sounds like a PERFECT vacation. The setting looks so peaceful. Can't wait to see some of the work you did there.

meta said...

Sounds and looks great!

Gurli said...

Such an adventure. Who wouldn't want to be there.
It has been nice to follow you a bit during this experience.

Nina Marie said...

I reviewed and showed work from the week in earlier posts - its really wonderful to have so much focused creating time. Arrowmont is a true blessing to a the artisan!

Mary Stori said...

You lucky dog you!!! Seriously, these types of settings with excellent instruction can be life changing....so happy you got the opportunity!

landscapelady said...

Thank you for describing this wonderful experience. It's on my bucket list. So much better hearing what it's like from a student verses what is on the website. It sounds like the perfect vacation.

landscapelady said...

Just had a thought - in a perfect world, all the artists that follow this blog would meet up for a weeks retreat at Arrowmount and since its in a perfect world someone else paid for the whole thing for us - yahoo!

Marilyn Wall said...

Nina I know I shouldn't but I envy you the experience. I too spent a lift or make that a creative changing week there. The week speeds by and the long days spent in the study are like minutes. I'm glad you had a great week.

Marilyn Wall said...

Nina I know I shouldn't but I envy you the experience. I too spent a lift or make that a creative changing week there. The week speeds by and the long days spent in the study are like minutes. I'm glad you had a great week.

Marilyn Wall said...

Oops, make that life changing not lift changing, although I could use that too.

Nina Marie said...

If it weren't for other fiber artists encouraging me to go - I would have never been brave enough to take the road trip. Marilyn - I think that the idea of a creative Lift is exactly correct - this time every year gives me the "juice" that fuels my projects all year!

And yes - I would love to win the lottery and buy a week for everyone - wouldn't that be fun? Giving a gift like that would almost be as amazing as the place itself!

Annette said...

So happy that you got the have that experience! Can't wait to see what more has taken root.

Regina B Dunn said...

I've read about Arrownont many times, now it seems I need to do something about it. thank you for taking the time to take so many photos and write so much about it. Sounds wonderful!

Norma Schlager said...

What a wonderful experience! I've only taken one five day workshop and that was with Jan Meyrs-Newbury. We put in a long day everyday, but I learned so much. Perhaps I should look into Arrowmont. It sounds like heaven.

Susan Lenz said...

Thanks for sharing your amazing week!
Susan

Heather P said...

Sounds heavenly! I've heard wonderful things about classes at Arrowmont. I'm so glad you such an amazing time!

Linda M said...

Oh I am so jealous, it sounds like a wonderful experience. Thanks for writing such an insightful review of Arrowmont, being a western gal I've never even looked into it.

Valerie the Pumpkin Patch Quilter said...

It sounds amazing!!! The cottage is beautiful! :)

Margaret said...

I have been looking for a 'bucket list' destination. It could be as close as Red Deer College...it could be Asilomar's "Empty Spools"...or it could be broader, deeper...