If you stop at the NC Welcome Center along I-26 West, you may see some pottery from Southwestern Community College on display.
Heritage arts instructors Susan Coe and Ed McIlvaine- along with Kari McIlvaine, Ed’s wife and a heritage arts student, recently had their pottery chosen for the Artist Count exhibit at the welcome center north of Asheville.
“I am honored to have been selected for the exhibit,” said Coe. “I hope it brings people to Jackson and Swain counties to see work by the local artists.”
Eighteen artists from Jackson and Swain counties were chosen to represent Western North Carolina in the inaugural exhibit.
The exhibit is titled, “Smoky Mountains Sampler” and will be available for viewing until July 2017.
“This is a great opportunity for all artists in the area,” said Ed McIlvaine. “The people at the welcome center are so nice and the exhibit is exceptional.”
Artist Count, a project of the North Carolina Arts Council and Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, was created to showcase the heritage arts and crafts from Western North Carolina by encouraging vistors to view and purchase artwork from area artists and craftsmen.
“The exhibit is just wonderful, and we are so excited to be a part of it,” said Kari McIlvaine.
While pottery is the chosen art form for all three, their paths to become potters have been just as unique as their work.
“I had only thrown pottery once while on a trip to Japan, but there was a language barrier that kept me from understanding the pottery terms,” said Coe. “Even with not being able to understand what the instructor was saying, I made a few decent pieces. I decided to give it another try at SCC in 2008 after seeing a pamphlet advertising pottery classes. I have been doing pottery ever since.”
Coe went on to earn her heritage arts master potter’s certificate and now teaches classes for the heritage arts continuing education program at SCC’s Swain Center.
After moving to WNC in 2011, the McIlvaines discovered their love of clay.
They continued to advance their skills at SCC, and together they run Sawmill Creek Pottery in Bryson City.
“I enjoy high fire and wood fire pottery, while Kari’s pieces are whimsical yet functional,” said Ed.
Both Ed and Kari have earned their heritage arts master potter’s certificates and Ed teaches with Coe at the SCC Swain Center.
For more information about SCC and the programs it offers, call 828-339-4000, visit www.southwesterncc.edu or stop by your nearest SCC location.