Sylva (Jackson County), North Carolina
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Folk & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellowship
Jackson County’s Susan Leveille is a pillar of the local arts community, an advocate for traditional arts in addition to being an artist herself. In this way, she continues a family legacy of teaching and encouraging traditional skills which stretch back to her ancestors’ arrival to Western North Carolina in the early 1800s. Leveille’s great-aunt, Lucy Calista Morgan, founded the well-known Penland School of Crafts in 1929, and many of Leveille’s family members learned hand-weaving and other skills there through the years. Her own father learned to hammer pewter at the school and used those skills to put himself through medical school. He was later one of the first individual members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Her mother, from New England, grew up learning textile arts. Leveille herself was inspired to learn hand weaving at a very young age when a relative came to live with them for a few years, bringing her loom with her. At about the age of ten or twelve, Leveille attended Penland to learn how to set up a loom, and from then on she was a weaver. She majored in Crafts with a concentration in weaving at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and she also studies with Marion Heard, who was then the director of Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.
Since finishing her studies, she has amassed countless hours of teaching and retail experience. “I have taught weaving at my private studio and community colleges, craft schools and workshops throughout the southeast,” Leveille explains. Again, following in her parents’ footsteps, she has operated several businesses in Dillsboro, North Carolina, “including a weaving shop and craft gallery.”
This fellowship will fund a research project in which she will travel to museums within 200 miles of her home to study overshot weavings, their history and the transmission of patterns between weavers in the area.
Folk & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellowships
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