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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Located just south of Winslow, Arkansas in the beautiful rollercoaster of the Boston Mountains, the Ozark Folkways building was constructed gradually from the late 1940's through the early 1960's at the behest of Miss Clara Muxen, a retired educator from Iowa. Her unrequited dream for the building was that it be used as a craft school, but she died before its completion and the large, native stone building sat unused for many years.

In 1973, the rapidly growing Ozark Native Craft Association took up residence and thrived there as a member-based social welfare craft group until the late 1980's, when employment opportunities in northwest Arkansas expanded due to intense economic development in the area. By 1997, income had dwindled to a third of its former gross and a new interstate highway was being constructed that would bypass the area. The board of directors recognized the cue to adapt and made the decision to shift focus away from retail, to concentrate future efforts on the preservation of and education in regional heritage and crafts. By spring of 2004 the sprawling retail portion of the building had been reduced by half, a free resource library and museum established, and later that year the organization was approved for 501(c)(3) status under the new name of Ozark Folkways. 

The long-term goal of  this rebirth, is the creation of the "Clara Muxen Folk School of  The Ozarks" a respected and competitive arts and craft school which will include an "artist in residency" program, summer activities for the community and a year-round curriculum of classes and workshops for children and adults of all ages.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the creation of new sources of income, namely grants and charitable gifts, are of central importance to our survival. Equally important is an expansion of the community we serve. 

In the past, Ozark Folkways has behaved primarily as a service to the people of Winslow and a few surrounding communities. Today, due in large part to the expansion of the internet and social media, we are fast becoming a resource to the larger regional community of the mid-south, as we continue to move towards the creation of an educational center for the teaching and preservation of folk arts and craft. 

Presently home to several arts and crafts groups and guilds, including Boston Mountain Quilters and the Wool and Wheel Handspinners, Ozark Folkways continues to add new venues each year. In 2010 we are offering classes and workshops in basket-making, spinning, weaving, painting, creative writing, and pottery.  

With our rebirth and rededication to the original goals and mission of our founder, we are moving closer  to Miss Muxen's long-ago dream of a craft school in the Boston Mountains, and so the dream lives on.

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