Berea is a Mecca for artists and craftsman from the Appalachian region. The connection between subsistence farming and hand craft is intrinsic to the rural mountain communities which feed Berea College and seed the region with artists. There is a relationship between time, art, and nature that can be manifested in the 21 acre Bluegrass farm at Bobtown. The ability to have small, sustainable studio spaces situated in nature where artists can seek solitude, grow food, raise livestock, and interact with the landscape form a traditional basis for much folk art and hand craft.
The Appalachia we now embrace is diverse, both urban and rural as well as racially and ethnically diverse. The philosophy of the Appalachian artist, formed from years of seeking class and labor justice, is consistent in its value of labor and its connection to transforming minds and economies through entrepreneurship.
The immediate Appalachia that surrounds Bobtown consists of some of the nation’s most economically depressed regions, including Estill, Clay, Jackson, and Rockcastle Counties. Students come to Berea from these counties and nine states that define Appalachia, and we intend to reach out to those areas. One of our goals is to link local artists and Berea College students to the surrounding historic community through post graduate internships and fellowships that allow students to build portfolios and business acumen prior to seeking graduate school.