September 2023

“Every Simple Thing”: Revisiting Craft through the Lens of William A. Barnhill

In January 2016, the Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies at Mars Hill University presented Appalachia a Century Ago, an exhibition exploring early 20th century craftspeople in Western North Carolina through the photography of William A. Barnhill. From 1914 through 1917, Barnhill explored rural communities around Asheville, collecting images of people spinning, weaving, whittling, and making “every simple thing” for everyday use.

To this day, artists in this region continue to make many of the same functional wares that Barnhill observed in his photography. However, just as the way of life in this region has changed greatly over the past century, so too have crafts and crafting. Now, we will once again revisit Barnhill’s collection, but this time with an eye towards “the rugged individuality of the craftsman.” In this second showing of Appalachia a Century Ago, photographs from the William A. Barnhill Collection will stand alongside a selection of modern art and crafts, highlighting the play between simple functionality and decorative art that stands at the heart of Appalachian handicrafts.

Coming in October 2023

Rivercane Renaissance


Past Exhibits

Sharing Responsibility for Our Future: Activism and Voting Rights in Appalachia

Unearthing Our Forgotten Past: Fort San Juan

Virtual Exhibition – Opening the Door to Change: Educating Rural Appalachia

Elements of Hand and Mind: A Selection of Historic Southern Highland Crafts From the Collections of the Rural Heritage Museum

A Fountain of Youth in the Southern Highlands: A History of Hot Springs, North Carolina

Understanding Our Past, Shaping Our Future (Cherokee Language and Culture)

The Civil War in the Southern Highlands: A Human Perspective

Shelter on the Mountain: Barns and Building Traditions of the Southern Highlands

“Our Story, This Place”: The History of African American Education in Madison County, North Carolina: The Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School

Interwoven: Coverlets, Ballads, and America’s Discovery of Madison County Folklife

Madison County Visitor Center

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The Museum will be open on MWF, 10-11, during the fall semester when school is in session.
Office: 828-689-1651
P.O. Box 6705
Mars Hill, NC 28754

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