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Artisan Women's Retreat
17 Sep 2013
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On the third Saturday of each month, Sharon Wolfe-Tepsick and Tonya Adkins host an Artisan Women’s Retreat at a beautifully restored and secluded log cabin on Sherry Granger’s Antler Ridge Farm in Morgan County, Kentucky. The project offers women and girls an opportunity to step back in time for a day and embrace their “Inner Granny!”  Drawing on a lifetime of skills passed along from their mothers, grandmothers, and other capable and wise women in their lives, Sharon and Tonya share with others the rewarding and enjoyable experience of creating heritage crafts and learning traditional skills.  They also recruit other local artists, including participants at the retreats, to teach skills from their areas of expertise.

Each retreat begins with a potluck dinner featuring locally grown food. Sharing food is a time honored tradition in our culture, and it provides a relaxed setting for people to get to know each other. Stressing the importance of locally grown food is part of the social change we are striving for in these retreats. When people eat “real” locally grown food, it can change their buying patterns as consumers, improve the local economy, and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

This Women-Powered project embraces ancestral wisdom, providing hands-on learning that focuses on the skills that have sustained and made our lives more beautiful and fulfilling for generations.  Some of the workshops we have offered include: cheese making, Native-American flute making, Christmas ornaments from the garden, painted gourd bird houses, seed saving, and memory aprons. Our goal is not only to create art and increase traditional knowledge, but to give women an opportunity to network with each other, create a sense of community, and celebrate the important contributions women have made to the family and social fabric of Appalachia.

Each retreat culminates with a toe-tapping sing-along led by Tonya. Music has always been an integral part of the Appalachian experience, providing both entertainment and a creative outlet. Furthermore, music has often been a vehicle for social change, as with the protest songs during the fight to unionize the coal mines, or the efforts to stop strip mining. We use music as a vehicle to create a sense of camaraderie, to promote the vocal talents of our participants, and as a way to remember and honor the past.

We are very proud that our retreats have inspired creativity and helped some attendees to view themselves as artists. After attending her first retreat, one participant was motived to create a series of paintings based on the women in her life that she calls the “Wise Women.” She was invited to display her paintings at the state capitol during the legislative session. We have also encouraged artists to lead workshops themselves, and have inspired two of our participants to begin selling their photographs at local craft fairs; one also now sells her hand-made scarves in a local shop. These retreats not only give us an opportunity to appreciate and encourage each other, but they are also just downright fun!


The artist or arts organization telling this story was supported in part by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. KFW is based on the belief that when women and girls advance, so does Kentucky. For more information about the foundation and the social change artmaking being done by the individuals and organizations it supports, visit www.kfw.org." 

Multimedia Painting Photography Song Agriculture Community Culture Empowerment Folklore Gender Heritage Local Preservation Recovery Rural-Urban Traditional Women Activism Folklife Project/Initiative Appalachia Southeast Activist Agriculturalist Craftsperson Native American Retreat
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