Sixth grade AIG students at Bethel Middle School recently finished a unit on Thomas Wolfe. These students spent weeks researching the life and works of this legendary writer from Asheville while simultaneously reading the book What I came to Tell You by local author Tommy Hays. The book draws many parallels to Thomas Wolfe’s life, and students had a wonderful time learning about the real Thomas Wolfe through the modern day fictional novel. After researching Wolfe and reading the novel, AIG teacher, Jennifer Cody, took her students to Asheville where they were able to visit the Thomas Wolfe house and also visit Riverside Cemetery where Wolfe and many other famous people have been laid to rest.
In the novel, Grover, the main character, is a modern day artist who seeks solace by escaping to the bamboo grove close to his home. Grover spends hours in the grove making bamboo tapestries from all natural materials. So, in an effort to better understand and visualize how Grover produced his tapestries and to appreciate what the tapestries looked like, BMS reached out to Carol Stangler, Queen of Bamboo! Carol lives in Asheville and is a well-known environmental artist and author. Not only did Carol read the book so that she could help us out, but she gathered friends and family to help her on her quest to also design a tapestry like Grover makes in the book.
On March 13th, Carol journeyed to Bethel Middle School and brought many of her own pieces of art to show students. Stangler brought bamboo frames and numerous other twigs, bamboo leaves, bark, and twine so that each student could design their very own tapestry. Students learned about warping, discussed artistic interpretation, and even talked about what artistic license means. Stangler referenced the book numerous times throughout her demonstration, and students and staff who participated thoroughly enjoyed her workshop.
Carol Stangler has a book titled The Craft and Art of Bamboo, and she has a gallery near her home. Stangler taught art in several different states and in a variety of educational settings before settling down in Asheville. After seeing her work, it is clear that Carol truly is the Queen of Bamboo!
Submitted by: Kendra Plemmons, Bethel Middle School