Fifty years after the state's first arts and crafts fair, artisans continue to showcase West Virginia's heritage through their creations, according to one of the organizers of that event.
For the May installment of its "Little Lecture" series, the West Virginia Humanities Council hosted speaker Donald Page, who delivered a detailed talk Sunday afternoon on the history of the arts and crafts movement in state.
Page, who has produced artisan products out of wood, metal and silkscreen for more than 70 years, addressed attendees in the elegantly appointed Jeffards Library at the historic MacFarland-Hubbard House on Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston.
In the early '60s, Page was involved in efforts to assist and train craftspeople from around the state in reviving traditional arts like basket weaving, quilt making and blacksmithing.
Because of his labors, and the labors of many other like-minded artisans, these traditions are still alive and active today.
"We are a people who make things," Page said. "We use crafts to show off to the world who we are and what we do."
Page outlined the craft movement's humble beginnings at the first Mountain State Arts & Craft Fair held at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center near Ripley in 1963. Because of the first fair's enormous success and positive public response, numerous craft organizations sprang up around the state.
These organizations, like Cabin Creek Quilts, Mountain Artisans and the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association, allowed craftspeople to network, share ideas and find outlets to sell their products.
Today, Page explained, craftspeople have more options to display and sell their work, but the methods and reasons for producing it remains much the same.
"To me, the crafts movement is more important than anything else that happens in the state," he said. "It's where you see people, producing products and interacting with those products and the public."
The WVHC will host the final installment of its spring lecture series at 2 p.m. June 23 in MacFarland-Hubbard House, where historian John Alexander Williams will speak about the state's 150th birthday.
Contact writer Charles Young at charles.yo...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.
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