The Western North Carolina Historical Association’s (WNCHA) 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award will be presented to Ann Miller Woodford for her work preserving and promoting the history of African American people in far western North Carolina.
As a child growing up in rural and segregated Cherokee County, North Carolina, Ann attended the one-room Andrews Colored/Negro Elementary School in the small town in Andrews. There Ann’s talents were discovered and encouraged by her favorite schoolteacher, Ms. Ida Mae Logan.
Though African American teachers made very little money, Ms. Logan sent Ann’s artworks, at her own expense, to the Scholastic Art Awards competitions, state and county fairs, and other places from which Ann won gold keys and blue ribbons. Ann reminisces, “Her caring ways were largely responsible for helping me to build self-esteem as an artist and led me to become an imaginative, creative adult.”
A school nurse provided a set of used oils, some brushes, a palette, and a Walter Foster instruction book How to Draw and Paint Seascapes that opened the door for her love of oil painting. The Saturday morning Jon Nagy Learn to Draw programs gave her initial skills in drawing while she was encouraged by her family and baby sister, Nina who often marveled at what she would leave on the canvas board.
Having traveled and worked across the United States, Ann built an exciting career in business and arts in Los Angeles, and then returned to western North Carolina where she founded One Dozen Who Care, the area’s first 501(c)3 organized by African American women.
Intent on nurturing seeds of change, Ann has always had a personal goal to improve relationships between races, religions, youth, and adults. Because she saw a need to strengthen the African American heritage in far western North Carolina, Ann researched and documented the powerful personal stories of the lives of the seemingly invisible African American people of the region, in her book When All God’s Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina.
Along with her paintings and teaching art, Ann makes presentations on regional African American history to build self-worth in young people and uplift the elders. She inspires crowds with her art, shown in local and traveling exhibits. Her moving portraits of people and animals reveal a love for humanity and all of God’s creations in its myriad forms and moods. Using oils, Ann calls her works representational, mostly southern genre, however, she is skilled at drawing in pencil, charcoal, and ink, as well. She says, “I am motivated by people, animals, clouds, trees, rocks… Inspiration never stops!”
Achievement Award Ceremony
The WNCHA 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award will be presented to Ann Miller Woodford on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. This virtual event is free to attend and will include brief remarks from the Outstanding Achievement Award Committee Chair, Catherine Frank, WNCHA’s Executive Director, Anne Chesky Smith, WNCHA’s President, Ralph Simpson, and Ann Miller Woodford.
The webinar will include presentation of the Outstanding Achievement Award trophy and monetary prize as well as a 20-minute film adapted from one of Woodford’s lectures about her book, When All God’s Children Get Together.
An exhibit of the same name, curated by Ann Miller Woodford, is currently on display at WNCHA’s facility, the Smith-McDowell House Museum in Asheville and runs through the end of June 2021.