Finally, I made it to the aSHEville Museum on Wall St. in Asheville. My friend, Heidi S., opened a beautiful, not-so little, museum, with a heartlifting mission:
aSHEville Museum has a mission to contribute to the creation of a more just and equitable world by sharing engaging stories, facts, narratives, and visual imagery of the richly varied achievements and experiences of women and girls throughout the world.
With this ennobling mission, I expected an emphasis on the developing world and its injustices against women. But to my surprise, these exhibits had a lot about the outdoors.
The first exhibit, is about Wilma Dykeman, the Asheville writer and activist (1920-2006) . See the picture above. Dykeman’s The French Broad, was the first book I read when I moved to Asheville. She writes about the Appalachian people and land in a way that was very fresh for her times, balancing ecological and economic concerns. I met Dykeman several times at book readings since she was active until the very end of her life.
Next, Tim Barnwell has an exhibit on modern women of Appalachia. Barnwell is a premier photographer in this area. He’s been chronicling rural Appalachia for decades with several coffee table books and many shows to his credit. I wouldn’t dare take a picture of his pictures. You’re just going to have to see his original work. To my surprise, Peggy Seeger, the sister of the more famous Pete Seeger, is one of the displayed photos.
Bonnie Cooper, an artistic and intuitive photographer, displays samples of her Interbeing Project: The Interface of Woman & Nature. Cooper has merged nature pictures, most of them not local, with photographs of nude women. She tries to answer the question of how we, women, connect to the natural world. Again, no pictures of pictures. Just go and see it yourself.
These are just the exhibits somehow connected with the outdoors. Heidi has managed to place several interesting displays in what might first look like a very small space. The exhibits change regularly.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fascinating gift shop in front. All the items for sale are made by local and international women. It seems that some visitors just come for the gift shop.
I was very impressed that “aSHEville Museum is a socially-driven enterprise and therefore memberships are not tax-deductible”. It’s a worthwhile, successful commercial enterprise that Heidi has pored her heart, soul and money into.
Check out the aSHEville museum when you’re wandering around the town and go into the exhibits. I joined as a member so I can pop in and out when I’m downtown. There will always be something interesting and thought-provoking.