Made in the Mountains: Appalachian Art Abounds in Jackson County, NC

Jackson County, NC is rich with history and heritage rooted in Cherokee tradition and Appalachian culture. Though replicas may exist, there is no substitute for the handmade craftsmanship that fills our galleries, shops, museums and market stalls.  

Plan your trip and follow this Guide to Your Appalachian Art Adventure in Jackson County!  

Dogwood Crafters 

A cooperative showcasing mountain arts, crafts and gifts, Dogwood Crafters has been a staple in Dillsboro since 1976 when it was founded using leftover bicentennial grant funding. Enter the log cabin-style galleries to find handmade treasures created by regional artisans who keep Appalachian craft traditions alive. Its ever-changing inventory features works from 100 or so artists who create everything from corn shuck dolls to wooden bowls to handmade quilts to stained glass to novelty birdhouses. Its hand-crafted items will surely be treasured and invoke fond memories of your time in the North Carolina Mountains.   

Joel Queen Gallery 

From traditional Cherokee pieces to North Carolina ceramics, pottery is plenty in Jackson County. Don’t miss Joel Queen Gallery, on U.S. Hwy. 441 in Whittier, where you’ll find imaginative work infused with Cherokee culture. Queen is a ninth-generation potter who traces his lineage through the Bigmeat family in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. His black pottery, the most traditional of styles, is hand built, polished and fired in an open pit using hand-carved tools. You may also discover Queen’s stamped pottery, sculpture and wood carvings in this gallery.  

Qualla Arts & Crafts 

Courtesy Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Destination Marketing

With more than 3,000 handmade, authentic Cherokee items for purchase, Qualla Arts and Crafts holds the honor of being the nation’s oldest and foremost Native American cooperative. Opening in 1946 with a vision of strengthening tribal values and providing livelihoods while offering unique beauty, the co-op offers pottery, knives, wood and stone carvings, jewelry and other pieces. Don’t miss its amazing basketry works made from river cane, white oak and honeysuckle.  

Museum of the Cherokee Indian 

With just a short walk from Qualla Arts & Crafts, you can immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Cherokee people at the Museum of the Cherokee People. Located in the Cultural District of Cherokee, this museum is the recipient of the 2022 Guardians of Culture and Lifeways International Award from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums. It has also been named among the Top Ten Best Native American Experiences by “USA Today.”  

Inspired by the beauty and ingenuity of the Cherokee people, this is a tour without equal. The traditional story is told through modern technology. Computer-generated animation and special effects combine with life-sized figurative work as well as art and artifacts to create an informative and moving full-sensory experience.  

Appalachian Women’s Museum 

Housed in the restored 1908 Monteith Farmstead in Dillsboro, the Appalachian Women’s Museum gives voice to the women who first settled in this once-isolated part of the country. With a mission to gather, preserve and share the stories of the women of Southern Appalachia, the museum also hosts special events, including Airing of the Quilts, where the colorful, handmade works are displayed each spring, and traditional music on its front porch.  

Jackson Arts Market  

Each Saturday morning in downtown Sylva, a tucked-away corner turns into a pop-up arts festival featuring works from local artisans and crafters. The Jackson Arts Market is free and takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. in a space on Main Street. In addition to handcrafted items, you’ll find locally produced, foraged, sourced or mined goods. The colorful scene includes live music and a flock of free-roaming chickens.     

Don’t forget to book your lodging in advance to immerse yourself in the art experience fully. And, while you’re here, take a few moments to breathe in the mountain air with a hike, stroll or other outdoor adventure. Be sure to visit our delicious restaurants, sure to satisfy any appetite.  Plan your trip to Jackson County, NC today!  

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