Archived Arts & Entertainment

Snowbird mural brings community together

Photo credit: Appalachian Mural Trail. Photo credit: Appalachian Mural Trail.

Snowbird Cherokee artists and community members in Robbinsville recently gathered to launch the outdoor installation of a long-awaited 400-square-foot mural honoring women of the Snowbird Cherokee Community.

Originally launched in 2019, the Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team (GREAT) was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) for the project as part of its Inclusive Public Art initiative. Leading the artist team were Doreyl Ammons Cain, of the Appalachian Mural Trail, and TJ Holland, Cultural Resource Supervisor for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Director of Junaluska Memorial Museum in Robbinsville, and Snowbird Cherokee Community member.

With community engagement being central to ZSRs initiative, Cain and Holland held a series of community gatherings and listening sessions to inform the final design. Once the design was complete, a series of mural painting workshops were held with seven local Cherokee artists and these artists took the lead in painting portrait panels of their ancestors, Snowbird Cherokee women, to be installed on the mural wall.

While the project was met with delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Robbinsville community mourned the tragic death of artist team leader and Snowbird Community Liaison TJ Holland. 

This great loss added an additional layer of urgency and importance to the project through honoring Holland, his love for his community, his great knowledge and his contributions as an artist.

Everyone took notice when the mural panels were placed on the outside of the old VFW building in historical downtown Robbinsville in early May and PBS-NC, in partnership with ZSR, were there to document the project. 

The show of community spirit lives on in Robbinsville as Snowbird Cherokee artists and community members gather to paint and complete the installation of the Snowbird Cherokee women’s stories.

To check out the Appalachian Mural Trail, go to www.muraltrail.com, where you’ll find more than 120 magnificent murals with maps and directions to find the murals in the mountains and piedmonts of North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

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