When I signed on to work for Black Belt Treasures in November 2004, I never imagined the artistic journey that lay ahead in the next eight years.
I have enjoyed visiting artists in almost all nineteen counties of our region. It is amazing to see the ideas and the use of materials that exists in our Black Belt. There are hundreds at work and it would take days to tell you about all of them.
While visiting with Odessa Rice in Mantua and enjoying her comfortable home and gracious hospitality, we chatted about her pine needle baskets and her plans for the upcoming Black Roots Festival in Eutaw. Ms. Odessa is in her nineties but continues to use a fine twine and pine needles to create her masterpieces. I pleaded my case for making a long drive, and really needing baskets, so she let me pick six or so for Black Belt Treasures. The rest she saved for the Roots festival. Her remarkable example reminds me as a senior citizen to just keep on keeping on.
[Read more about Odessa Rice at: http://greenecountydemocrat.com/?p=313 and http://txstage.ny.atl.publicus.com/article/20041203/TMAG07/41201008?Title=The-Basket-Maker&tc=ar
Recently I drove to Marion Junction to see Freddie Epp and his lovely wife and daughter. Freddie is now in his eighties and a member of the Field Trail Hall of Fame. He is highly respected in the hunting dog world, but that is not all he does. He designs and creates beautiful wooden art from fallen wood on his farm property. Those items have been selling well at Black Belt Treasures and he was generous enough to donate a lovely clock for our silent auction this year. The last time I stopped by, he had visitors from Wisconsin, but was hard at work making a table for a wedding gift.
Black Belt Treasures, is working on art trails for our region and a Black Belt Quilt Trail is to be first. Emily Blejwas from AU Economic Development Institute is helping, and Kristin Law (BBT) is doing an inventory of places to visit related to quilting. If you know of anything, or anyone, that needs to be added to the list, please let her know. You can contact her at Black Belt Treasures at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just a few blocks from my home in Marion, Ms. Mattie, Ms. Eunice, and four or five other ladies are preparing to be part of the trail. They quilt every Tuesday on the campus of the former LincolnNormal School in a room that the UA Honors College have made more comfortable. Each quilter has her own preference for technique, style, and colors and that is what makes quilting an exciting art.
I will tell you more about our artists another time.
By now you probably realize how much I admire our senior artists who overcome age and all the aches and pain that comes with aging. It is art that gives them purpose and vibrancy. Everyone can learn from them, so I suggest that if you are tired of television and depressing news channels, that you give art a try!
Black Belt Treasures