Hambidge Center-Creative Arts, 105 Hambidge Ct, Rabun Gap, GA 30568
Rabun Studios, 31 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017
Mary Crovatt Hambidge (December 20, 1885 - August 29, 1973) was born in Brunswick, Georgia in 1885 and became an influential weaver in the north Georgia mountains, leaving behind an organization devoted to the artists, which later became known as the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences.
Hambidge was educated in Cambridge, MA at the Lee School For Girls. She moved to New York, NY in the 1920s to pursue her acting aspirations where she met illustrator and art theorist Jay Hambidge. During a visit to Greece in 1920-1921, Mary Hambidge apprenticed as a weaver at the foot of the Acropolis and continued weaving after her return to New York. Seeking more affordable housing in the late 1920s, she moved to Rabun County in the north Georgia mountains and began meeting spinners and weavers in the area. In 1934, she moved her small weaving operations to an 800-acre property including buildings and pastures on Bettys' Creek Road, which she was later able to purchase with the help of a benefactor, Eleanor Steele Reese. Her enterprise became incorporated in 1944 as the Jay Hambidge Art Foundation.
Mary Hambidge dedicated her life to the theories of "dynamic symmetry," developed by Jay Hambidge, a design theory that links human art objects with natural laws of growth and balance. She was also greatly influenced by Greek culture and the Delphic revival of the 1920s and '30s, spearheaded by her friend and mentor, Eva Palmer-Sikelianos. In 1937, Hambidge and Eleanor Steele Reese opened a small crafts store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Rabun Studios, that sold yardage from the Weavers of Rabun, her weaving enterprise in north Georgia that included extensive farming operations. Over the next 20 years, she would receive international honors and be invited to show her work at the Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art.
In the last decade of her life, Mary Hambidge focused more on developing a community for artists and craftspeople, which led to the creation of the Hambidge Center, a renowned artist's retreat, in 1973. As one of the first artist communities in the U.S., the Hambidge Center has a distinguished history of supporting individual artists in a residency program. The Center also continues to act as a steward of its extraordinary location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In 2017, a 30-minute documentary about Mary Hambidge's life was produced by Atlanta filmmaker Hal Jacobs.
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