Nature & Nurture: The Voorhees Family Artistic Legacy

Blue teapot by David Voorhees

Edwin and Mildred Voorhees believed that nature and nurture were important to the creation of art and artists. When they moved to the coast of North Carolina in the 1960s, they made those elements more available to both themselves and their children. They became accomplished painters and paid it forward in a big way — by raising an entire family of artists and craftspeople. 

“Crafting and creating were everyday activities in our family,” recalls their son, David Voorhees. Someone was always painting, sewing, designing, building, or repairing. That certainly charted my life as a potter — no wonder so many of us ended up as artists.”

Ode to Millie, Susan Voorhees

The fruits of this multigenerational pursuit can be found in Nature & Nurture: The Voorhees Family Artistic Legacy, on display at the NC Arboretum’s Baker Visitor Center Exhibit Hall. The featured artists — which include five painters, a potter, a jeweler, and a woodworker — are Edwin Voorhees, Mildred Voorhees, Susan Voorhees, David Voorhees, Jane Voorhees, Amy Cusick Voorhees, Molly Sharp Voorhees, and Chad Voorhees.

Charm bracelet by Molly Sharp Voorhees

The family began doing group shows decades ago, and have been hosting exhibits since the late 1990s at their homes in Morehead City, NC, and in Zirconia and Asheville. The first was such a grand success it has become an annual event and weekend art sale dubbed the “Voorhees Family Art Show.” Family members also have four houses in North Asheville where they host art shows; in November they’ll put on the 25th annual such event. 

Nestled, Jane Voorhees

But those eager to enjoy the work sooner can attend this inclusive, expansive exhibit at the Arboretum — which runs through Labor Day. In keeping with the spirit of the Arboretum, many of the artworks feature the beautiful landscapes and native plants of North Carolina. 

Through Sept. 5 (9am-5pm). Baker Visitor Center Exhibit Hall, NC Arboretum. ncarboretum.org. 828-665-2492.

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