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The Museum Of The Cherokee Indian Hopes Art Can Attract New Visitors

Photo by Bear Allison (Courtesy of The Museum Of The Cherokee Indian)
Photographer Bear Allison, 37, combines his love of portrait photography with his intrepretations of the traditional stories of the Cherokee Booger Man.

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is hoping to improve attendance and inspire new artists through its newest expansion.


A new room at the Museum of the Cherokee won’t be full of any ancient artifacts.  Museum director Bo Taylor says, instead, it will be a gallery space for local artists.


“One thing that I’ve always preached and told people is that often museums are set aside for things that are dead and gone but as the Cherokee people we are still here,” says Taylor. “We’re still living vibrant people with something to give and something to share.”

Credit Photo Courtesy of The Museum Of The Cherokee Indian
This mask by Joshua Adams is called, "Death To Power And Politics." It is made out of a hornet's nest, with a hand carved wooden mask underneath.


The first show is called, "Renewal of the Ancient: Cherokee Millennial Artists.” Woodcarver and artist Joshua Adams is the guest curator of the exhibit which features 25 Cherokee artists under the age of 40. Adams teaches wood carving at Cherokee High School. The youngest artists featured in the show are his students. They just graduated this year. Adams, a member of the tribe, says art is a huge part of the Cherokee culture.


“If you walk through the museum then you will see just how important it is,” says Adams. “You get to see the old art work and you get to see young kids doing that same artwork thousands of years later and kind of paying homage to older artists and ancient artists as well.”


Lauren Smith,32, learned wood carving from her father. She exhibited two hand carved bears in the show. She also used a 3D printer to make another bear - that one is bright purple. This show holds a special place in her heart because of her family connection to carving and because she is Adams’ wife.


“I think nationally and worldwide people kind of think of Native cultures as something of the past and something that’s no longer around - so I think it’s nice to represent and say, ‘We’re still here,’ says Smith.  “We’re doing new things and we are honoring our culture at the same time.”


The exhibit will run until March 1, 2018.


The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is a business sponsor of Blue Ridge Public Radio.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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