Heritage & Home: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm features approximately 40 images, as well as a selection of historic photos and artifacts, from photographer Ken Abbott’s Hickory Nut Gap Farm Project. After discovering the old Sherrill’s Inn in 2004 while chaperoning his daughter’s preschool field trip to Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Abbott, a newcomer to Western North Carolina, spent the next several years photographing the Fairview, NC house and family.
Sherrill’s Inn, a stage stop and drover’s stand along an important trade route to Rutherfordton, NC and parts east, became the private home and farm of Jim and Elizabeth McClure in 1916. Jim, a distinguished Protestant minister, started the Farmer’s Federation in the early 1920s, and Elizabeth, a painter educated in Paris prior to WWI, set about creating a home and gardens at the old Inn. After almost 100 years of busy family life, the home and working farm have become an important center for the Fairview community, as well as a monument to Elizabeth’s sense of the importance of beauty in daily life.
Ken Abbott received his MFA in photography from Yale University School of Art in 1987, and spent 15 years as chief photographer for the University of Colorado at Boulder. He moved to Asheville with his family in 2002, and has pursued independent art projects including an extensive documentary of Mrs. Hyatt’s Oprahouse, a gathering of musicians and devoted fans meeting weekly in the garage behind the house since the 1950s. Abbott also photographed businesses, people and buildings in the old Asheville stockyards area, prior to its recent transition into the new brewery for New Belgium Brewing Company. Abbott received an Artists Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council for the Hickory Nut Gap Farm Project in 2006.
This exhibition was organized by the Asheville Art Museum, with special thanks to Ken Abbott. Thank you to the NC Arts Council, John and Annie Ager, The McClure Fund, The TSK Foundation and Suzanne R. Jones for their support of this exhibition.