Wounded and wheelchair bound vets often need rehabilitation not just to get a job, but to nourish their soul. Imagine a place where you can live in accessible accommodations, learn a craft and share meals with your fellow artisans – all in the beautiful mountains surrounding Gatlinburg, Tennessee? That’s what the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts offers and so much more. Arrowmont is 100 years old this year, founded by a benevolent sorority intent on bringing literacy and employability to the settlement now known as Gatlinburg. During that time, the sorority found commercial markets for the artisans’ crafts, including basket making and woodworking: The mountain people were previously producing just for their own subsistence.
Arrowmont is located on 14 acres on the edge of town, past the neon signs and tourist traps of the popular city. The school is also at the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park – the most popular national park in the country. The scene at Arrowmont is serene and vintage, thanks to old buildings like barns repurposed for today’s uses. There are handicapped accessible rooms, which you should request with the registrar, as this is moderately mountainous terrain. Thanks to a recent generous donation in honor of wounded veterans, they have handicapped accessible wood-working lathes. Students can take classes that last for a weekend, one-week and two-week sessions, offering a concentrated experience of working in professionally equipped studios. Students of varied experience levels, ages, and backgrounds work side-by-side, thus, exchanging ideas and techniques. So, you could be a beginner sitting next to someone getting a PhD in textiles and it’s all good. The instructors are hand-selected from around the world. Classes in wood, metals, enameling, jewelry making, warm glass fusion and stained glass, textiles, weaving, basket making, fibers, paper, bookmaking, printing, painting, drawing, photography, clay, stone and others are available.
Financially, Arrowmont is looking into the process for getting accredited as a GI Bill accepting school. We at GI Money are looking into this and will update you with the latest information as soon as it’s available! There are also work-study scholarships to be able to work off your tuition and living expenses as well as other scholarships.
The nearest airport is in Knoxville and a shuttle service is available.