Finding Affrilachia

9 hours ago

Affrilachian artist Valeria Watson at work.
Credit Valeria Watson

  The Appalachian region is an expansive stretch of hundreds of thousands of miles from the mountains of New York to Mississippi. It is home to more than 25 million people who celebrate diverse cultural traditions, yet its stereotype as a region filled with poor, white farmers still looms large. In the 90s, writer Frank X Walker coined the term “Affrilachia,” to chip away at those stereotypes and render visible the life and work of a more diverse array of residents.


Marie Cochran is one of the pioneers of Affrilachian art movement and founding curator of the Affrilachian Artist Project, which was devised to nurture and connect African-American artists from the region. Cochran joins host Frank Stasio to share the stories of some of these artists. They are also joined by Affrilachian jewelry maker Viola Spells, owner and designer of Zenobia Studio, and painter and multimedia artist Valeria Watson. Spells and Cochran will participate in the panel discussion “Crafting Affrilachia,” on Oct. 20 at 12:45 p.m. It is part of the University of North Carolina Asheville’s 5th Annual African-Americans in Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia Conference.