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CHEROKEE CARVERS: TRADITION RENEWED

Virgil Crowe created the carving “Rattlesnake Mask” in 2009. Image courtesy of the Asheville Art Museum

Watch a stone-carving demonstration, learn about Cherokee artistic traditions and listen to traditional Cherokee stories at the N.C. Museum of History during the opening of Cherokee Carvers: Tradition Renewed, a traveling exhibit from the Asheville Art Museum. Light refreshments will be provided during this free First Friday program on Aug. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. Please RSVP to wmabe@ncmuseumassoc.com or call 919-807-7853.

Storyteller and stone-carver Freeman Owle will demonstrate carving techniques that he learned growing up in Cherokee in western North Carolina. Owle has three carvings, including a 4-foot-long ceremonial village pipe, featured in the exhibit that will run through Nov. 27 in Raleigh.

He said he hopes visitors will take away a better appreciation of art forms that the Cherokee have used for thousands of years.

“I hope they can see Cherokee as an entity separate from other tribes,” he noted. “Art is completely different and distinctive to every tribe. The colors are different, the material used is different, the culture is different and the history is different.”

He said that Cherokee art reflects the culture, social belief system and religious aspects of the tribe.
Owle studied with noted carver Amanda Crowe (1928-2004) at Cherokee High School. He taught for 14 years at Cherokee Elementary School, where he began to tell Cherokee stories he learned as a child.

Crowe was a major influence on contemporary Cherokee artists, and she taught art and wood carving at Cherokee schools for nearly 40 years. Her carving “Bear Tree” is on display in the exhibit.

The other carvers featured in the exhibit live and work in Cherokee, preserving and expanding the traditions of Cherokee art and culture. Exhibit objects include ritual items such as masks, functional items such as tomahawks and arrows, and pieces designed to be sold to tourists and collectors. The carvings are made from a variety of materials including wood, stone, feathers, beads, leather and deer antlers.

The exhibit is made possible by the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources (RTCAR) initiative, Cherokee Preservation Foundation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Western Carolina University.

The First Friday program is sponsored by the N.C. Museum of History Associates. For more information about the museum, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org or Facebook. The museum is located at 5 E. Edenton Street, across from the State Capitol. Parking is available in the lot across Wilmington Street.
Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.

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