Documenting Traditional Arts and Culture of Central Appalachia

South Arts' In These Mountains program seeks to preserve and perpetuate the traditional arts and culture of Central Appalachia. A key component of this includes working with documentation teams—made primarily of graduate students at in-region universities—to collect stories, audio, video, and practices of these communities.

In June 2022, Folk Studies and Appalachian Studies students and documenters from Appalachian State University, Western Kentucky University, and East Tennessee State University met in Eastern Kentucky for a site visit. This was the first time all three of In These Mountains’ FY22 graduate students were able to meet and work together in-person.

They visited the Appalachian Artisan Center and Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky, and the Pine Mountain Settlement School in Bledsoe, Kentucky. Together, they conducted eight interviews with 16 individuals, including master weaver Bob Young and his apprentice Anthony Carter; Hindman Settlement School and Pine Mountain Settlement School staff; and instructors and student participants in In These Mountains folk arts education programs. They took numerous photos and videos of both settlement school campuses. This documentation is especially valuable given the catastrophic flooding in Eastern Kentucky in July 2022, in which the Appalachian Artisan Center and Hindman Settlement School sustained significant damage. Many of the studio spaces and artwork the students documented on their trip were lost to the flooding or are now in need of restoration.