God had certainly sent Amanda Crowe into this world with a special gift. When she was only a toddler, having been born in the Qualla Boundary, North Carolina in 1928, she picked up carving just by watching others. By the age of four she was already drawing and carving and by the age of eight, she was even selling her carvings of birds and animals.
That she will pursue art when she grew up was a foregone conclusion. By the time Amanda got admitted to high school, she had lost both her parents. For schooling, she had to shift from North Carolina to Chicago. She passed out from Hyde Park High School and sought admission in an art institute. Her remarkable carving skills got her a scholarship in the School of Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned Master of Fine Arts degree. To pursue her passion, she opted to study sculpture with Jose De Creeft at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
It was Amanda’s conscious decision to return to the Qualla Boundary in the early 1950s to serve her tribal community. Giving something back to her people came naturally to her. The turning point in her life came when she got associated with the Cherokee Historical Association as art and carving teacher at Cherokee High School. Here she devoted 40 years of her life to teaching her craft.
It was Amanda’s dedication to carving that made this minor craft into an art industry. She taught her students carving and sculpting both wood and stone. Seeing them grow into established sculptors became a source of pride for her.
As for her own self, she always preferred wood to any other medium for carving. This was because she loved the movement of the grains that seemed alive in her hands. Also, the beautiful tones and textures all add life to the figures. The amazing shapes of deer, raccoons, geese, owls and her favorite bears created out of blocks of black walnut, wild cherry and buckeye are a testimony to her sculpting magic.
Of course, Amanda’s contribution as a teacher and an artist has been immense. This has been acknowledged by numerous honors and awards that she has been conferred with, such as a 2000 North Carolina Heritage Award, among many others. Her works have been displayed in many museums around the world.
Amanda breathed her last way back on September 27, 2004. Today, her students are carrying forward her legacy.