Finding Balance

Thomas-Irven-finding-balance-980x314 (1)

Focus Gallery Exhibition

Finding Balance

August 25-November 13, 2023

Location: Folk Art Center, Milepost 382 Blue Ridge Parkway in east Asheville, NC

Hours: Open Daily, 10am-5pm

Admission: Free

On Friday August 25, the Southern Highland Craft Guild opened its autumn focus gallery show, Finding Balance; open now til November 13, 2023. This exhibition features the work of five Guild members: Barbara Jones and Elaine Dohms in fiber, Deneece Harrell in clay, Thomas Irven in wood, and Janice MacDonald in mixed media. The Folk Art Center is open daily from 10am-5pm located at milepost 382 Blue Ridge Parkway. Admission is free.


Barbara Jones, fiber, member since 2018

With a professional background in illustration, graphic design, quilt design, long-arm quilting and a love for mixed media art, Barbara Jones manipulates natural and synthetic fabrics, threads, yarns, ribbons creating intricate colorful designs.“I work in an improvisational style; I don’t have a blueprint or a set of tried-and-true instructions to create one of my pieces. There is no Step 1, Step 2, Step 3—it’s more like the fiber and I take a journey together. The fiber may pull me one way or I may nudge it in a different direction; sometimes we have a destination in mind, or sometimes we just wander, roaming and rambling until we realize we’ve arrived. I’m always thrilled by this process of discovery and refinement, and I hope the result intrigues and involves the viewer.” states Jones.


Elaine Dohms, fiber, member since 2021

Another style of framed fiber in the exhibit is by artist Elaine Dohms, who uses a needle to merge layers of assorted wools, tussah, and margilan silk creating landscapes full of textures and colors. Her pieces reflect the scenes around her of mountains and trees, framed in burled and natural edge wood such as walnut and ambrosia maple.

Deneece Harrell Sculptural Porcelain

Deneece Harrell, clay, member since 2022

Visitors may recognize the work of 2022 Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands featured artist, Deneece Harrell, who manipulates layers of porcelain into organic asymmetrical sculptures with gold leaf interiors. Her white and gold pieces encapsulate viewers, inviting one to reflect on life’s experiences. When asked about her process she states, ”Questioning, searching, and wrestling with ideas of purpose, identity, and worth drive my creative process. Experiences layer, fusing the unexpected and predictable, the uncontrolled and intentional. The juxtapositions that create the story of our lives are reflected in my sculptural porcelain vessels. I am learning to see and to treasure life, shaped by beauty in the hands of love.”


Thomas Irven, wood, member since 2021

Possibly Thomas Irven’s most recognizable pieces are wooden acorn sculptures and boxes made in various sizes, shapes, colors, and from different types of trees, but this nationally recognized artist makes a variety of wooden sculptures, lamps, and furniture. Irven is an award-winning artist who has been producing custom furniture in his Bellaire, TX studio since 1987. With an earned BS in Business and an MS in Occupational Education, Irven has taught woodworking and drafting in the public schools and in private institutions. Irven apprenticed under an English master craftsman and has conducted seminars in which he has taught woodworking, woodturning, and design.


Janice MacDonald, mixed media, member since 2012

The mixed metal sculptures on display are made of scraps of fabric, mica chips, wire, aluminum, recycled materials, cast bronze, complete with metallic, epoxy, and acrylic glazes and show a range of work by Janice MacDonald. Working in mixed media materials for over a decade, MacDonald states, “The goal is to show that ordinary can become extraordinary with little cost, no experience and few tools by anyone with an idea and a need to express themselves by igniting the create spirit.”