|Akira Blount, renowned dollmaker, looses battle with cancer|
An internationally known artist died Saturday at her home in the Bybee community of Cocke County. Akira “Betty” Blount,67, passed away peacefully following a battle with cancer. She was a passionate artist and teacher of dollmaking, with national and international acclaim, who had lived a full, rich, creative and productive life. Akira was a strong supporter of the Rose Center and had displayed her work in various shows at the Center. She and her husband Larry also were long time volunteers with the Morristown office of the American Red Cross. Akira grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and was educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Art Education. She started making dolls from cotton stockings in 1970 and they evolved into a steady source of income. Her mastery of needle sculpting evolved into a style well known as her own. In 1979 she moved to Tennessee with her husband Larry and 2 children. When she was not working on dolls, Akira loved to garden, raise chickens, and take long walks in the woods with her Papillon dogs, where she often found inspiration for her new works. As president of the National Institute of American Doll Artists, an international organization of doll artists, she also juried and wrote the introduction to "500 Handmade Dolls", tought annually at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg , Tennessee and taught dollmaking in seminars around the world. Akira's dollmaking was heavily influenced by her love of nature; "The energy and beauty of nature has always sustained me. Woodlands, in particular, I find compelling. My love of natural materials has led me to explore how I might personify the spirit of nature in images of the playful, creative forces in nature. Each piece is a combination of cloth, handmade paper, natural materials and found objects, most of which are collected personally from my farm and gardens." Her art work is included in Permanent Collections around the world including Paris France, the CLINTON LIBRARY, Little Rock, AR, SEKIGUCHI DOLL GARDEN, Shizuoka Japan, the TENNESSEE STATE MUSEUM, Nashville, Tennessee. Exhibitions include National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC, American Folk Art Museum, NYC, NY, Mint Museum of Fine Art, Charlotte, NC, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA, Tampa Museum of Fine Art, Tampa, FL. The White House Collection of American Craft, a collection of over 70 pieces of contemporary crafts of which Akira is the only doll artist, has traveled to museums all over the USA since 1994 and is now on permanent display at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Friends are invited to join the family in a recognition of Akira’s passing on Saturday, August 10th at Larry and Akira’s home, 944 Marshall Hollow Road, in Bybee, from 10:00 am till 2:00 pm. Family and friends may sign the guest register on line at: www.manesfuneralhome.com. Manes Funeral Home in charge.