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Franklin sculpture unveiling

The sculpture unveiling ceremony will be March 23 in Franklin. Donated photo The sculpture unveiling ceremony will be March 23 in Franklin. Donated photo

The “Women’s History Trail Sculpture Community Celebration” will be held on Saturday, March 23, in Franklin.  

Following the unveiling at 11 a.m. at the Women’s History Park, located at 592 East Main St., the celebration will continue in the downtown area.  

The season’s first Artisan Alley Downtown Market will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Phillips Street. The uptown Gazebo on the Square will highlight traditional tunes by Tom & Wyatt (1 p.m.), Blue Jazz (1:45 p.m.) and Susan Pepper & Laila Messer (2:30 p.m.).   

The Scottish Tartans Museum will host Cherokee Storyteller Kathi Littlejohn at 2 p.m. Dulcimer group Lady & the Tramps and mountain music duo Tom & Wyatt will perform throughout the downtown corridor. Sponsors for the entertainment are the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center and the Arts Council of Macon County. 

Both the Women’s History Trail concept and the “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” sculpture project began as thoughts in the fertile mind of Barbara McRae.  

McRae was a journalist, a historian, a naturalist, a visionary and a trailblazer. She had particular interest in researching the lives of significant Macon County women whose accomplishments and influences had been unknown or forgotten.  

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In 2017, McRae met the sculptor, Wesley Wofford, a chance encounter that sparked the creation of “Sowing the Seeds of the Future.” McRae had been thinking about the interconnected lives of Na-Ka Rebecca Morris, (a Cherokee woman), Harriet Timoxena Siler Sloan (a pioneer woman) and Salley, (an enslaved woman), all linked by a specific piece of property on the river.   

McRae was trying to imagine what their everyday lives might have been like in early-19th century Franklin. Wofford immediately embraced the challenge of bringing them to life in a work of art.  

In May 2018, Wofford presented the maquette — the miniature prototype — of “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” to the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County and he was enthusiastically commissioned to go ahead with the sculpture.

The Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC), sponsor of the Women’s History Trail, will officially transfer this treasured gift of public art to the Town of Franklin in honor of Women’s History Month. The sculpture not only represents three historical women, but also symbolizes each group of women and their cultural contributions that helped forge modern day Franklin.  

The Women’s History Park, although designed and created by FHAMC, belongs to the Town of Franklin and will stand with the artistic MainSpring silos, greenway orchard/butterfly garden and nearby Nikwasi Mound to help develop a hub of cultural growth for the river area.

The WHT Sculpture Community Celebration will be a time for reflection as we remember those gone before us who paved the way, and a time for celebration as we dedicate the sculpture as the trailhead for the Women’s History Trail and welcome these “ladies” to their home in the newly established park by the river.   

The unveiling ceremony will include this dedication, comments from cultural speakers, remarks from Wesley & Odyssey Wofford and special guests First Lady Kristin Cooper and Town of Franklin Mayor Jack Horton. Pre-show music will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the site featuring Blue Jazz.   

Additional entertainment will include a vocal solo by Delphine Kirkland, an interpretive dance by Jada Bryson and the Dance Co-op followed by post celebration performances by Ubuntu Chorus, Susan Pepper & Laila Messer, Cherokee Storyteller Kathi Littlejohn and sculpture conversations with Wofford Studios.

Since parking is limited, visitors are encouraged to park nearby at East Franklin Elementary School (100 Watauga Street, Franklin) and ride the free shuttle to the site. For everyone’s safety, pedestrians should use the crosswalks provided.

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