Nature Inspires Creativity at Jefferson County Arts Center

Jul 20, 2015

Sculptor, Aaron Treher.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new art installation appeared in Jefferson County, Saturday: Three big, concrete bees were installed on the grounds of Craftworks at Cool Spring. Craftworks is a nature preserve and an art studio located just outside of Charles Town.

Sculptor, Aaron Treher is the brain behind the bees. He says he’s concerned about threats to native bees, like bumblebees.

Treher is the artist-in-residence at Craftworks, and has been for the last year. The organization’s mission is to bring art and nature together.

“Art and nature are very closely related," Treher said, "I think that there’s a lot of crossovers within a lot of artists’ work cause they draw a lot of their inspiration from nature, so places like this are really important in the sense of finding inspiration, and Craftworks does a really great job of that.”

Craftworks is a place that provides a space for artists to work, and it’s also twelve acres of protected land with a marsh, trails, and wildlife. The idea for the place came from a woman named, Linda Case. She says she wanted to combine nature and art, while also providing a place for people to getaway from their daily lives.

Linda Case, owner and founder of Craftworks.
Credit Linda Case / Craftworks at Cool Spring

Originally, Case bought this property to live in, and then she discovered the land included a rare type of marsh.

“It had eighteen rare and very rare West Virginia plants," Case explained, "so that was good news, and that was bad news. The good news was there was this wonderful, wonderful thing that existed on this land. The bad news was it was responsibility.”

Case wanted to preserve the marsh and share it with the community. In 2008, she made the land what it is today; the marsh, one barn - where Trehar works - and one studio building.

While one of the main things is to provide a space for artists, Craftworks also hosts summer camps for kids, aged 6 to 13.

The studio is the main building on the property, and the building was designed to be energy efficient. The walls are super insulated and so are the windows.

But the property has its struggles. It’s a non-profit, and founder, Linda Case says right now she’s the main provider to keep it going. Other funds come from the community, board members, and grants. But Case says the organization needs to find new sources of funding.

“And it’s trying to find the way to be the most useful, the most valuable, have the highest impact on the community,” Case explained.

That means having events like last weekend’s - with live music, a nature walk focused on pollinators, and the unveiling of Treher’s new work.

Treher's bees are now mounted on the side of the studio building. They’re near the rafters and made to look like they’re nesting.

Founder, Linda Case hopes the entire property will eventually feature outdoor artwork similar to Treher’s bees.