Warren Wilson College has been awarded a $2.1 million grant by the Windgate Charitable Foundation to enhance its art department with the addition of studio craft and material arts, working with partners to make western North Carolina a recognized center for craft study.
The grant, spanning a three-year period, will foster a close partnership between Warren Wilson and The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design. The collaboration will provide a sustainable home for craft education in the region that will be open to students across the nation.
Grant funding initially will provide for increased faculty and staff positions, including a full-time teaching position in sculpture and greater support for woodworking, fiber arts and blacksmithing so that they continue to flourish at Warren Wilson. In addition to increased faculty support and artist-in-residence positions in each of the three areas, internships for recent graduates will be phased in at the college during the grant period. The Windgate grant also will enable the creation of a new staff position in order to coordinate the partnership with CCCD.
“This is an excellent opportunity to enhance an existing strength of the college,” Warren Wilson College President Steve Solnick said. “We already collaborate with CCCD, and we look forward to doing so more formally and to working with other schools and programs in the area to support the role of craft in our region.”
CCCD Board Chair Michael Sherrill agrees: “For the past two years, the center and Warren Wilson have based our discussions on developing a model craft program – for faculty and students in the region, as well as for others around the country who are interested in sustaining craft culture. We look forward to making this vision a reality.”
Warren Wilson has long had a tradition of Appalachian crafts on campus. The college had, however, seen a decline in student interest until 2009, when interest reemerged in several areas and the college created student work crews with an eye toward reviving the tradition of fine craftwork on campus. Currently the crews include fiber arts, blacksmithing and fine woodworking. The Windgate grant will allow Warren Wilson to dramatically increase its craft outreach to the greater community and its artisans, collaborating with CCCD to reach many of the center’s goals, as well.
“This grant provides a unique opportunity for the college to take a leading role in the teaching of craft and forges an important partnership with the center,” said Stephanie Moore, CCCD executive director. “Students will be engaged in learning a significant art form that helped build the economy of our region and changed so many lives.
“Warren Wilson is an extraordinary treasure in the Southeast, and we look forward to working with both the students and faculty to develop a top-notch craft studies program.”