Susan D'Amato in Brena Studio

Mission

Hambidge provides a residency program that empowers talented artists to explore, develop, and express their creative voices. Situated on 600 acres in the mountains of north Georgia, Hambidge is a sanctuary of time and space that inspires artists working in a broad range of disciplines to create works of the highest caliber.

We pledge to offer a nurturing retreat for artists, preserve Hambidge’s pristine natural environment, and provide public educational programming.

History

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 600-acre setting in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Center was created in 1934 by Mary Hambidge, who established the artist enclave and sustainable farm in memory of her artist husband, Jay Hambidge (1867–1924). After a brief career as a performer on vaudeville stages (Mary was a world-class whistler who appeared with her pet mockingbird Jimmy), she discovered weaving and eventually found her home among Appalachian weavers in the North Georgia mountains.

In the early days of Hambidge, she employed local women to create exceptional weavings that would one day be featured in many exhibits including the Smithsonian and MOMA. Later she broadened the scope of the Center by inviting artists for extended stays. After her death in 1973, the Center evolved into a formal and competitive residency program open to creative individuals from all walks of life.

The Hambidge Center is a member of the Alliance of Artist's Communities and the international organization Res Artis, and was recognized with the 1996 Cultural Olympiad Regional Designation Award in the Arts.

Extended Historical Background

A lifelong pursuit of creativity along with a love of dynamic symmetry and natural beauty led Mary Hambidge to develop an artist’s community in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She also possessed an entrepreneurial spirit to leave the artist community of New York City behind in the 1930s to become a fulltime weaver on her newly acquired farm in north Georgia. Creativity and entrepreneurialism are still the driving forces at Hambidge today.

Mary Crovatt was born in 1885 and grew up in the small coastal town of Brunswick, Ga. After spending her teenage years at a boarding school in Cambridge, Ma, she moved to New York City in 1905, where she pursued acting and artist’s modeling. Resourceful and vivacious, the diminutive redhead (4'9" with flaming red hair) also took to the vaudeville stage as a professional whistler accompanied by Jimmy, her pet mockingbird. After nearly a decade of working as a model and singer, her life took a dramatic turn when she became involved with Jay Hambidge (1867–1924), an artist and writer who achieved fame with his books on design and “dynamic symmetry.” His theory of proportion, linking natural human and plant growth to the classical Greek design, became popular among other artists such as Maxwell Armfield, George Bellows, and Robert Henri, among others. Tiffany and Company based a collection of jewelry on his design theory and the Chrysler Corporation employed his tenets in designing a line of automobiles. In the early 1900s Jay Hambidge's research took the couple to Greece where Mary was drawn to the ancient art of weaving and where she learned the fundamentals of the craft that would become her life’s work.

His ideas on design and their travels to Greece made a deep, lasting impact on Mary Hambidge, who took his last name although they never married. Ten years after his sudden death in 1924, she would apply what she learned – that creativity can best be nurtured through working closely with nature – by establishing the Hambidge retreat and a sustainable farm.