Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual: Celebrating 70 Years and Over 250 Artists | Cherokee, NC

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Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual: Celebrating 70 Years and Over 250 Artists

(Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual Inc. team members, L-R: Preston Bark, Vicki Cruz, Vickie Long, Faye Junaluska, Shirley Cloer, Denise Ballard, Joanna Martin, Dinah Harry | Photo by Kristy Herron)

This year will mark the 70th anniversary of Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual Inc., the nation's oldest and foremost Native American arts and crafts cooperative, working to preserve and promote the traditional arts and crafts of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. The organization, which includes over 250 artist members, has come a long way since 1946, but the crafts remain true to Cherokee roots and history -- splendid in design, color, and skill.   

Take a step into the state-of-the-art gallery store and see for yourself. Each piece is expertly handmade, from mesmerizing baskets, sculpture, pottery, weaving, jewelry, and more. No two pieces are alike.

Through the Generations

The artists at Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual primarily live and create in Cherokee, where they come from a long line of master crafters. The group is comprised of elders, some over 90 years old and still practicing their art, as well as younger members including those representing the Next or Third Generation, who have picked up their skills from the elders. The craft traditions on display have passed from generation to generation, from family members and members of the community, with materials and techniques that go back over eleven thousand years.

The work you see at Qualla is the best representation of Eastern Cherokee craft in the world, and many members have their work displayed in museums across the country and abroad.

Celebrated Artists


Reclaiming Our Power, Shan Gorshorn

(Reclaiming Our Power by Shan Goshorn | (c) Shan Goshorn) 

Member Shan Goshorn was named one of the 37 new United States Artists (USA) Fellows to receive an unrestricted $50,000 grant. Her fascination with basket weaving began as a teenager when she worked at Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual and learned the painstaking process of weaving, from gathering and preparing materials, to identifying the variety of intricate patterns.

Shan's baskets are woven in Cherokee single and double weave style, but she uses splints that are hand cut from archival paper and ink reproductions, instead of the traditional white oak or river cane splints. Her work has been shown all over the world, including Italy, France, and South Africa.

"I will keep making baskets as long as I can challenge myself artistically and intellectually, and as long as they continue to inspire others to learn about issues affecting us in Indian Country," she said in an interview with The Cherokee One Feather.

All Things Connected


Luther G. (Butch) and Lydia Goings

(Carvings and basket by Luther G and Lydia Goings | (c) Luther G and Lydia Goings)

Two other Qualla artists and Eastern Band of Cherokee members, Luther G (Butch) and Lydia Louise Goings, were also recognized this year for their basketry and carving work, receiving the 2016 Community Spirit Award from First People's Fund.

"In our culture, we believe that all things are connected. Therefore, we try to use all the skills and knowledge we have to strengthen our community. Even though we are known for basket making and carving, we also use other skills and knowledge we have to help our community," Luther G (Butch) and Lydia Louise Goings said in a joint statement.

To see the finest arts and crafts in Cherokee, including work by award-winning artists like Shan, Butch and Louise, visit Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, which is open year round. In the coming months, we'll share details for the 70th anniversary, so stay tuned!

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