What is it… that makes Western North Carolina a center for fine craft and art in the United States?

It’s a wonderful combination of:

  • A rich and long history of craft makers living in the mountains of Western NC

  • This region being home to educational opportunities since the 1920's and 1930's at John Campbell Folk School, Penland School of Craft & the former Black Mountain College; present day Universities with art degrees including sculpture, clay, metals and printmaking; area community colleges with craft programs – particularly Haywood Community College; independent education centers; and workshops offered.

  • Organizations based here, including the Southern Highland Craft Guild (founded in 1930) with the mission of “cultivating the crafts and makers of the Southern Highlands for the purpose of shared resources, education, marketing and conservation.” And, The Center for Craft (founded in 1998) with the mission of “advancing the understanding of craft by encouraging and supporting research, critical dialogue, and professional development”.

  • High number of galleries in Asheville and surrounding towns; including two galleries named Top in the Nation multiple times – Grovewood Gallery and New Morning Gallery.

  • An estimated number of 2200 working artists living in Western North Carolina. The River Arts District is a great example of the diversity of artists in the region.

  • Appreciation of a lifestyle that includes functional and beautiful hand crafted objects

  • Tourism as an important economic driver promoting all that the area offers: the scenic outdoors, the foodie culture, historic destinations, and the craft beer scene.

This statement sums it up nicely:


"These ancient mountains have bestowed upon us a breeding ground for dreams and ideas, providing fertile soil for the blossoming of the creative spark of novelists, poets, painters and craftspeople as well as capitalists, naturalists and visionaries.

Whether one attributes this abundance of creativity and inspiration to the breathtaking botanical diversity of our mountains or to the legacy of rich textures woven by the lives of people who have gone before, Western North Carolina honors and fulfills its heritage and promise as an unparalleled center of American Craft.”

Quote from HandMade in America, Asheville N.C.


Crafting the Blue Ridge Arts Scene

Western North Carolina's Craft Heritage

The Blue Ridge Mountain region surrounding Asheville, N.C. is rich with the handcraft traditions that have made the area into the arts destination it is today. Discover Western North Carolina's rich craft heritage, which goes back more than a century and continues to inform today's community of local artists.