Founders of the Southern Appalachian Folk School, located in the Jasper building that most recently housed Pickens DFCS. (l-r) Debbie Brownlee, Heather Poole, Pat Jewell, Rhonda Lindsey, JJ Roper, Billy Roper and C. Larry Wilson.
A group of dedicated artists and art supporters have come together to open a folk school in Pickens County to celebrate the unique Appalachian culture of the area.
Southern Appalachian Folk School is a homegrown effort to keep the mountain culture alive by sharing its arts, crafts and stories. Beginning February 2018, the school will offer classes in a wide variety of folk arts. Among the initial offerings will be basket making, wood whittling, making cane blow guns, and chair caning. As the school grows, it will
purchase equipment that will allow them to offer classes such as metal working, wood turning, pottery, and quilting.
The initial goal is to offer weekend retreat-like classes. Each weekend will kick off with a meet and greet student/instructor reception followed by Saturday and Sunday classes. Founders aspire to create a walkable, residential campus that offers workshops and classes that encourage open participation and learning.
Heather Poole, owner of Talking Rock Pottery who is part of the founding group, said, “Pickens County has its own unique flavor as the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. SAFS will provide classes in the handicrafts and arts that helped develop this flavor.”
Other founders include folk artist C. Larry Wilson, folk artist and lifelong resident Billy Roper, poet and lifelong resident Rhonda Lindsey, graphic artist Debbie Brownlee, businesswoman JJ Roper, educator and Pickens Arts & Cultural Alliance President Amelia McIntyre, and poet and thespian Pat Jewell.