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This new exhibition presented by the Asheville History Center will explore the power, prevalence and persistence of the Appalachian hillbilly stereotype from the late 19th century to the present day.  The exhibit will take a unique approach by focusing on photography featuring the people of the region, some of them stereotypical images, combined with poetry and short prose pieces that question and challenge these stereotypes.  The exhibition will be divided into five sections and will explore issues related to:  Religion, Music, Arts and Crafts, Moonshine and Ignorance/Backwardness.   A number of three-dimensional objects and artifacts reflecting mountain traditions will be shown in the exhibit as well. Hillbilly Land will be on view through December 31, 2014, during regular visitor hours at the Asheville History Center at the Smith McDowell House.
Dr. Dan Pierce, curator of the exhibition said, “I have a love/hate relationship with the Hillbilly stereotype; hating the way that people look at me when they hear my accent, but loving playing the hick, the rube. Using the rich photography and literature of the region, the Hillbilly Land exhibition explores the complex nature of this very old and remarkably resilient image.”
Many of the early photographers in Appalachia came from outside the region and reflect the fascination with the region and the people who live in its coves and hollows.  Early photographers included in the exhibition are Bayard Wootten and Doris Ulmann. Contemporary photographers include Rob Amberg, Tim Barnwell, Don Dudenbostel, Benjamin Porter and Ralph Burns. The writers featured all have deep roots in Western North Carolina.  They include the late Jim Wayne Miller, Fred Chappell, Robert Morgan, Michael McFee, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Ron Rash, Wiley Cash, Wayne Caldwell and Jane Hicks.
Hillbilly Land was curated by Dr. Dan Pierce, Historian and History Department Chair at UNC-Asheville.  Additional research for the exhibition has been contributed by Jim Stokely, son of North Carolina writer, Wilma Dykeman; Gene Hyde, Head of Special Collections and University Archives at UNC Asheville and Erica Locklear, Associate Professor of Literature and Language at UNC Asheville.  Thomas Rash, Dr. Gordon McKinney and Dr. Richard Graham have assisted with the exhibition planning and programming.

Saturday, September 20, 2014
Crafty Historian
with Education Coordinator, Lisa Whitfield
10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Please join Lisa Whitfield for another in the series of monthly Crafty Historian Events on September 20, 2014.  This particular Crafty Historian event is designed for both adults and children.  Participants will make a "Shekere" (shack-eh-ray).  A Shekere is a beaded gourd that is used as a percussion instrument by shaking and thumping.  Each gourd must be prepared before the event.  All gourd makers need to contact Education Coordinator, Lisa Whitfield, on or before September 15 to make a reservation and to set a time to pick up a gourd at the Smith McDowell House. You may call 828-253-9231 or email  Instructions will be provided for cleaning, cutting and preparing the gourd.  The fee for this event is $10.00 and will be due when the gourd is picked up.

Although its origins are West African, today the shekere is found in the Americas and Caribbean as well.  The calabash or gourd (as it is commonly known in the United States) is a functional creation of nature with a wide variety of uses and traditions in cultures around the world.  It grows on a vine not unlike squash. Some varieties grow on bushes and trees.  Historically, gourds were used as a container for water, and still is an essential utensil in many parts of the world. Often they are used as birdhouses.

Spiritual But Not Religious...
Before Spiritual But Not Religious 
Was Cool 
October 2, 2014 - 7:00 pm 
The Rev. Brian Cole
First Baptist Church Chapel

That old-time religion is still practiced in Appalachia today. It is fervent, colorful and sometimes dangerous.  Some ardent believers in Appalachia take up deadly serpents. Episcopalian priest, the Rev. Brian L. Cole, has made a study of southern folk worship practices from brush arbors to storefront churches.  He will speak on 'Spiritual But Not Religious...Before Spiritual But Not Religious Was Cool: Reconsidering Hillbilly Faithfulness.

His talk will be held in the chapel of First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville on Thursday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. The presentation, sponsored by the Asheville History Center-Smith McDowell House is free and open to the public.

Cole's talk is one of a series of programs spun off by the exhibit, Hillbilly Land: Myth and Reality of Appalachian Culture, currently on exhibit at the Asheville History Center -Smith McDowell House, 283 Victoria Rd., through Dec. 31.

For too long," Cole said, "religion in Appalachia has been held up for scorn, amusement or pity by mainline Christians. Now, in our time, it might be that we could stand to benefit from the mountain traditions more than we know or might care to admit."

The pioneers of Appalachia were as innovative as they were devout, Cole said. The isolation of the early settlers of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountain ranges led them to sing without accompaniment - shape-note singing - worship without churches in brush arbors and tent revivals and, led by unlettered preachers, to take the Bible literally.  Some practices, such as snake handling, endure today.

Cole is former canon of The Cathedral of All Souls, Biltmore Village, and current rector of The Church of the Good Shepherd, Lexington, KY.  He is a native of Missouri and was graduated from Murray State College in Kentucky. He is an adjunct professor at Wake Forest University.  He is married to Susan Weatherford, poet and traditional musician.


October 18, 2014 – 2:00 pm
Arts and Crafts of Appalachia
Presented by Becky Anderson Founding Director of Hand Made in America
Anna Fariello, Associate Professor, Western Carolina University

Manheimer Room at the Reuter Center on the UNC-Asheville campus.

November 13, 2014 – 7:00 pm
"Thunder Road" and the Economics of Moonshine Presented by Sheriff Van Duncan
The Carolina Theater

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