Tennessee Craft Centers Offer Creative Opportunities

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Art Guild at Fairfield

Barbara Rogers distinctly remembers the first time she visited the Art Guild at Fairfield Glade 11 years ago, on an “Open Studio” Monday. Sitting and painting with about 15 other artists on the second floor of a tiny building where the gatherings had been held since the early 1970s, she realized that she and her husband had chosen the perfect place to retire.

Each week after that, says Rogers, now Guild co-president, she and her new friends “got together and painted and talked and just had a good time.”

“Of course if you love something, you reach out and try to make it a better place than it already is,” she says. “We have grown to become one of the best art organizations in Tennessee.”

Now housed in a spacious facility built in 2007, the Guild’s 153-person membership spans all ages. It hosts more than 100 annual workshops and classes in everything from beading and soap-making to life drawing and thread painting. A fine art gallery and shop showcases watercolors, fabric art, pottery, jewelry and other high-quality pieces, and the campus also has a new wheelchair-accessible sculpture trail and an extensive library of instructional books and CDs.

Art Guild at Fairfield

The organization also strives to recruit budding artists under 18. For the past decade, volunteers have visited public schools in Cumberland County, introducing fourth-graders to the work of the Old Masters and contemporary artists. The Guild also offers summer art programs, monthly classes for home-school students, and college scholarships.

“We want to have them love art like we do,” Rogers says of the Guild’s young students. “Hopefully some of that group will come out with a better knowledge and interest in doing some type of artwork.”

Rogers, who teaches colored pencil drawing, has witnessed a number of “light bulb” moments over the years.

“A lot of the people who come to my classes have never had any lessons at all, don’t know anything about art,” she says. “And they always leave with a beautiful painting. I truly believe anyone can learn how to paint if they just give themselves a chance.”

Art Guild at Fairfield

Rogers and her colleagues hope their own passion for art is contagious. “We want to take artwork into the community,” she says, “so that everybody can enjoy it as much as we enjoy it, for them to view it and for us to teach it and get more people interested in doing it.”

If You Go …
Art Guild at Fairfield Glade
Address: 451 Lakeview Drive, Fairfield Glade, TN 38558
Website: artguildfairfieldglade.net
Phone: 931-707-7249
Check website for winter hours.

More Tennessee Craft Centers

Fairfield Glade isn’t the only one of its kind. Many other communities outside of bigger cities have places for artists – from amateur to professional – to take classes, display their work and connect with other creatives. Here are a few around the state:

Appalachian Arts Craft Center, Norris
(865) 494-9854
(Closed Sundays and Mondays January-February)
What began in 1970 in the back of an old grocery store as a way “to enrich the souls and pocketbooks of low-income people in Anderson County,” the Craft Center is now a free-standing educational facility with a variety of classes and a public gallery of handmade items ranging from blankets and rugs to photography and bowed psaltery (a musical instrument).

Appalachian Center for Craft, Smithville
(931) 372-3051
A satellite campus of Tennessee Tech University, the Center offers BFA degrees and craft certification in clay, fibers, glass, metals and wood. The general public can also sign up for 50 workshops each year, stroll through three exhibition galleries, or shop for world-class art such as blown glass, jewelry, decorative ironwork, lamps and turned bowls.

The Renaissance Center, Dickson
(615) 740-5600
In addition to art galleries, workshops and demonstrations, The Renaissance Center offers an eclectic mix of activities and entertainment, from ballroom dance lessons and Southern gospel concerts to RockSTAR camps and field trips for schools and home-school groups. The Artisan Market also features the creations of Tennessee authors, musicians and farmers.

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