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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Colleges Invest in the Arts: SwVCC's Appalachian Arts Center

The Appalachian Arts Center at Southwest Virginia Community College showcases traditional as well as contemporary craft and fine art.
The Appalachian Arts Center at Southwest Virginia Community College showcases traditional as well as contemporary craft and fine art.
Additional photos below »

Where Traditional Folkways Mesh with Contemporary Craft & Fine Art

By Angela Wampler | October 29, 2007

Southwest Virginia Community College ? Richlands, Va.

The Appalachian Arts Center is housed in the Old Archie Helton Store, three miles north of the college's main campus. Locals have fond memories of "Archie's place" which opened in 1948 as a general store selling everything from ham, milk and eggs to razor blades. The store functioned as a community gathering place: in winter, locals swapped stories around a pot-bellied stove; in summer, folks would sit on the long covered front porch and watch cars go by on Route 19.

Southwest Virginia Community College acquired the building in 1988, renovated the space, and opened it as the Appalachian Arts Center in the spring of 2006.

The Center is a 4,000-square-foot gallery, marketplace and educational resource that promotes and preserves traditional folkways, contemporary craft and fine art. The facility features a large space for rotating exhibits showcasing regional artisans, as well as seven small gallery spaces devoted to the exhibition and sale of work created by local craftspeople, artists, student apprentices, authors and musicians.

New at the Appalachian Arts Center

— - Four brightly colored, hand painted quilt squares now adorn the front of the building. They were painted by SVCC art students, under the guidance of Ellen Elmes, and include such traditional quilt patterns as Virginia Star, Farmer's Wife, Heavenly Stars and Farmer's Daughter.

— - Most recently a new classroom and photographic documentation area was (were?)added. Educational demonstrations, artist's talks, professional development workshops and craft courses are offered, as well as a business curriculum entitled "Entrepreneurship for Artisans."

— - The Appalachian Arts Center website was launched Oct. 1. It includes a searchable registry of 95 represented artists with images of their work.

— - A Holiday Bazaar will be held Friday, Nov. 16 from 5-8 p.m. at the Appalachian Arts Center. Artists will offer holiday wares including knitted and crocheted winter wear and hand-woven gift baskets containing homemade items such as jam, beeswax candles, soap and other goodies. Jewelry makers will have a selection of semiprecious gemstone jewelry in a wide variety of styles from delicate freshwater pearls to bold turquoise and wire-wrapped pieces.

For more about the other schools who invest in the arts click HERE.

Quilt squares adorn the front of the Appalachian Arts Center at Southwest Virginia Community College.

A closeup of the Appalachian Arts Center storefront.