"the only rule i have is to try something new with each piece."
-nancy garretson, weaver, abingdon, virginia
i am lucky to teach in abingdon several times per year. this small town in southwest virginia is a relatively undiscovered treasure. it is full of history, natural beauty, stories, amazing food and southern graciousness. since i'm working during the day, i had not been able to visit the local artists' cooperative, the arts depot, as it is closed up by evening.
this week i was taking a walk downtown after dinner and noticed people coming out of the studio doors. it just so happened they were holding the inaugural first thursdays open studios on this night. inside the studios and hallways, the walls were lined with watercolors, photographs, ceramics and textiles. the artists were busy at work or chatting with visitors. i could make out the faint melody of cotton-eyed joe being played by the bluegrass band in the back room.
when i entered nancy's brightly lit studio, she was weaving alternate threads of emerald and teal into the tapestry she was creating. nancy's tapestries are colorful and dimensional expressions of natural landscapes, waterfalls and rivers. her portfolio is stunning. see some of her work and read about her creative process by clicking here.
nancy was working on one of three looms in her studio. another one, which she made herself when she couldn't find an affordable loom after she graduated from college in the 70s, stands in a beam of sunlight, a testament to her creative spirit and determination to make art.
nancy told me, "i've been a weaver for forty years. i made the decision very early on that i wasn't going to focus on making money, i was going to focus on having fun."
it was such a serendipitous pleasure to meet and talk with nancy and see a bit of her work and her process. it turns out we have several odd things in common. our conversation inspired me to make more art and to meet more artists. since i get to travel for work and have evenings free, i am going to make a point to explore more studios and seek out local artists in every virginia town i visit.
nancy told me next time i'm in town to ring the bell at the back door (the one right next to the train tracks) and she would let me in if she happened to be there after the doors are shut, which she often is.
she can count on that.