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6/4/2018 12:32:00 PM
Ferdinand nonprofit hopes to foster appreciation for local art
Ann Knebel
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Ann Knebel

Allen Laman, Herald

FERDINAND — A new Ferdinand nonprofit organization hopes to increase appreciation for unique and practical handcrafted items in the area by offering artists a venue to both sell their creations and lead classes that teach community members how to make their own, traditional artwork.

Hours before Traditional Arts Today’s official ribbon-cutting event Friday, wares including handmade wooden cutting boards, handwoven rugs, pottery, quilts and more adorned the inside of a historic Ferdinand home, recently turned into a shop and studio, located at the intersection of Ninth and Missouri streets, a couple blocks off Main Street.

Ann Knebel, the nonprofit’s president, is originally from Jasper and now lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. She also attended high school at the Marian Heights Academy — later known as Academy Immaculate Conception — in Ferdinand.

Knebel plans on moving back to the area when she retires in two years from her research job with the National Institutes of Health. In the meantime, she said other members of the nonprofit’s board and its employees have “taken the lion’s share of making things happen” since she lives states away.

But she is looking forward to moving back and becoming more involved in the day-to-day operations. Knebel said art is something she has always felt passionately about — her mother, Cornelia, was an expert quilter — and she is excited to provide a bridge between local artists and the public.

“In our technology-focused society, I think people don’t appreciate what goes into making something,” she said, explaining that the items for sale at Traditional Arts Today are one-of-a-kind and never mass produced.

Originally, Traditional Arts Today founders thought they would wait for Knebel to retire before opening shop, but enthusiasm to get the organization off the ground sped up their launch. Once chenille scarf weaving and Ukrainian style, ornate egg-decorating classes started taking place at the location in early 2018, the nonprofit’s leaders knew it was time to get the ball rolling on the shop.

A little more than two years ago, the founders bought the house — which was built in 1965 — and the idea to turn it into a shop and class studio was later born at a birthday gathering for Knebel’s sister, Joan.

The work of 28 southern Indiana artists and two Louisville artists is currently on sale at Traditional Arts Today. Julie Songer of Huntingburg, the organization’s artistic director, said she spent a lot of time at art shows and meeting with the artists to determine if their work would be a good fit for her initial vision of the venue. More artists will be recruited as time goes on. Songer said when she was looking for the first pieces that would be a good fit, she was looking for practical, high-quality products that are both unique and useful for the home.

And because Traditional Arts Today is a nonprofit, Knebel said the proceeds of the sales made at the venue primarily go to the artists, with the shop taking only a small commission to support the cost of overhead expenses.

“I knew that there were incredibly talented artists here,” Knebel said when asked why she wanted to bring the venue to the area. “And we had the opportunity to buy this beautiful home here ... and it’s just an incredible venue. Everything just sort of fell into place with the passion I have for traditional arts, people being willing to help do the work and help make it happen, and people interested in selling their art and offering classes. It all just sort of fell into place.”

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and will have Sunday hours during the Christmas season. Classes are held outside those hours and are posted on the Traditional Arts Today website, traditionalartstoday.org, as well as its Facebook page.

Contact the shop and studio at 812-998-2487 to sign up for classes.

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