Mary Crovatt Hambidge Documentary
About Mary Hambidge
She may be one of the most remarkable southern women you've never heard of.
Born and raised in a prominent south Georgia family, Mary Crovatt Hambidge became a bohemian weaver in New York in the 1920s, then moved to the north Georgia mountains in the 1930s to start a weaving enterprise with local spinners and weavers. Over the next 20 years, she would receive international honors and be invited to show her work at the Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art. In the last decade of her life, she focused more on developing a community for artists and craftspeople, which led to the creation of the Hambidge Center, a renowned artist's retreat, in 1973.
One of the defining moments of Mary Hambidge's life was discovering the theory of dynamic symmetry... and falling in love with the man who wrote the book on it.
About the Documentary
Shooting the documentary began in fall 2014 and included interviews with people who either knew Mary Hambidge or have written about her (see list below). Originally planned as a 8-10 minute film, the story kept getting more interesting with more details, resulting in this 30-minute noncommercial documentary. Archival images were graciously donated by Philis Alvic and the Atlanta History Center, which has over 1,100 textile pieces of Mary, as well as her papers. Limited funding was provided by the Hambidge Center and a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts. Music was generously provided by Takénobu (“Moonshine Still”), Lance and April Ledbetter at Dust-to-Digital, and others. Without Jamie Badoud's enthusiastic support at the Hambidge Center, the documentary would have never gotten off the ground.
I stumbled across Mary Hambidge's story while doing some pro bono editing for a nationally known artists' retreat, The Hambidge Center. The pieces of her story intrigued me: raised in a small southern town on the coast of Georgia only twenty years after the end of the Civil War, educated at an elite boarding school in the Northeast, moved to New York to become an actress AND became a professional whistler, fell in love with the much older (and much married) Jay Hambidge (a well-known illustrator and design theorist), then moved to the north Georgia mountains by herself (now in her early forties) to begin a weaving/farming enterprise, to which she dedicated the rest of her life (more than thirty years).
By the end of life she had become something of a colorful eccentric, especially for the Atlanta newspaper columnists. But the deeper I looked, the more I found to respect. She was a woman endlessly fascinated by life, especially its natural beauty. She adopted the creed of Jay Hambidge's dynamic symmetry, related to the Golden Mean. She sought to live her life in balance with nature. As well as encourage other artists to do so.
At the end of life, she could have moved to New York City (where she spent most of her winters) and lived in comfort. But she chose to remain in her little log cabin and watch over her 800 acres of pastures, streams, and rolling hills so that it would become a haven for other artists, which it now is.
The documentary is currently under consideration at several film festivals (please check back details).
September 2017 (tba). Atlanta History Center.
July 19, 2017. Rabun County Public Library
July 15, 2017. Southern Shorts Festival in Roswell, Ga. WINNER, BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD
May 13, 2017. Hambidge Creative Hive Screening at Colony Square in Midtown Atlanta
May 1, 2017. Avondale Towne Cinema
What People Are Saying
What an amazing story of a couple who found not only each other but perhaps the key to the natural world and the essence of it's beauty. This should air on PBS throughout the nation if it has not already. [Southern Shorts Festival Judge]
With this passionately and lovingly conceptualized documentary, Hal Jacobs revitalizes a woman whose strong dedication many have forgotten. Well done. [Yesho, Writer, Asheville, NC]
The film is wonderful and a much needed addition to our understanding of the era, and I plan to show it to my Early 20th Century Art class tomorrow. [Virginia Gardner Troy, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Art History, Berry College]
Your documentary about Mary Hambidge will give so much insight into the creative spirit that's made the place [Hambidge Center] possible. [Tommye Scanlin, Professor Emerita, University of North Georgia; founding member of Tapestry Weavers South]
Truly a beautiful production, quite moving. [John Burrison, PhD, Regents Professor, Georgia State University; Director, Folklore Curriculum]
An amazing job. You have told a very detailed complex story and made it especially understandable. You packed in an incredible amount of information but still had the major concepts involving Mary's life with balance. [Philis Alvic, Weaver, Author, Weavers of the Southern Highlands]
Southern Shorts Festival. WINNER, BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD. Nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematographer (Joe Boris & Henry Jacobs) and Best Sound Design.
Interviewees (with links for more info)
Philis Alvic, Weaver & Author of Weavers of the Southern Highlands (University Press of Kentucky, 2003), http://philisalvic.info
Jamie Badoud, Executive Director, Hambidge Center, http://www.hambidge.org
Mary Nikas Beery, Former Executive Director (Courtesy of George Nikas)
Lucinda Bunnen, Photographer and Philanthropist, http://www.lucindabunnen.com
John Burrison, PhD, Director of the Folklore Curriculum, Georgia State University, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/john-burrison-b-1942
Marie Frank, PhD, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Author of Denman Ross and American Design Theory (University Press of New England, 2011)
Jessica Green, Weaver & Homesteader, http://alittleweather.com/
Laurence Holden, Artist, http://www.laurenceholden.info/
Kathryn Kolb, Photographer, http://kathrynkolb.com/
Rosemary Magee, PhD, Director of Rose Library at Emory University, Author of chapter on Mary Hambidge in Georgia Women (UGA Press, 2014)
Susan Neill, Costume and Textiles Historian
Karin Schaller, Weaver
Bob Thomas, Artist/Designer
Aspasia Voulis, Artist (Courtesy of Georgia Tech Living History Program)
Eliot Wigginton, Founder of the Foxfire Project