Two Dillsboro artisans, Susan Leveille and Brenda Anders, have been recognized for their contributions to preserving Western North Carolina cultural heritage and positively impacting the Dillsboro community.
Susan Leveille, a native of Jackson County, comes from a family of weavers and craftspeople. She has been weaving since she was a young girl and is honored to have such an incredible heritage that is an Integral part of the history of these mountains. Susan will receive the 2014 North Carolina Heritage Award in May, an award that recognizes excellence for musical traditions, artistry and craft work.
In a North Carolina Arts Council article, Governor Pat McCrory said, “I want to congratulate this year’s winners and thank them for helping preserve our cultural heritage. Our artistic history is the foundation of the quality of life that attracts so many people to North Carolina.”
Leveille is the owner of Oaks Gallery, a handmade pottery, glass, wood, iron, jewelry, and weaving shop. Leveille assisted in the development of Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC as well as with the organization and planning of Handmade in America. She also was very active in helping create the Dillsboro Merchants Association.
Leveille has served as the board president and has been a lifelong member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. She also currently serves as the vice president of the Appalachian Women’s Museum, Inc.
Over the past 40 years Leveille has taught at Penland School of Crafts, John C. Campbelll Folk School, Western Carolina University, and the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. The artisan has devoted most of her time to reviving weaving traditions in North Carolina’s mountains and strengthening the art of weaving over the last four decades.
Anders, executive director of the Dogwood Crafters Cooperative, was the 2013 recipient of the Annual Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award. This award highlights individuals or groups who make a change in their communities by dedicating their time and skills to create a positive impact in the lives of others.
The Dillsboro Merchants Association nominated Anders for her continued enthusiasm, passion, and commitment to the town of Dillsboro. “Brenda is the face of Dillsboro. No matter where she is, she is promoting our lovely little town. She is the first to volunteer for any project we have. She never leaves home without a smile or some yummy snack to share with anyone she encounters. She is always positive, energetic and willing to get things done,” said Lisa Potts, owner of Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop and co-president of The Dillsboro Merchants Association.
Dogwood Crafters contains art and craft work from more than 100 artisans who make the shop unique. The breathe of work offered ranges from handmade quilts, children’s toys, pottery, woodcarvings, to paintings and so much more. Each room has a different theme, all of which showcase the hard work of local artists and their talent. Anders has been an active member of the Co-op for decades and has worked tirelessly to promote the business, its individual members and its contribution to the Dillsboro community. Most recently, Anders has also led the Dogwood Crafters Cooperative towards its long-term goal of having its own property in a distinct Dillsboro location.
Dogwood Crafters and Oaks Gallery are exemplary local businesses striving to preserve the arts and crafts culture. Leveille and Anders exemplify the spirit of the town of Dillsboro and the culture of Southern Appalachia.
The North Carolina Heritage Award ceremony will be May 20, 2014 at 8 P.M. in the A.J. Fletcher Opera House in the Duke Energy Center in downtown Raleigh. Tickets are $22 and are available from Pinecone, Piedmont Council of Traditional Music on the Pine Cone website.