As a native and lifelong resident of North East Tennessee, Susan Harrell Acito has been influenced heavily by the rich Appalachian culture surrounding her.
Though always involved in several different mediums of art, it wasn’t until she volunteered to assist in the re-creation of an authentic full-size Carousel that her talents became publicly admired. This undertaking known as the “Carousel Project” is housed and fully operational in the city of Kingsport, TN, for all to ride, be taken back, and enjoy for generations to come.
The “Carousel Project” showcased both her painting and woodcarving abilities with permanent additions to what is now and forever will be, a part of the our region’s history. Her contributions to this project included two large acrylic paintings depicting scenes of early Kingsport which are mounted as rounding boards, and the hand-carving and painting of a highly detailed Red-tailed Hawk in flight, all of which can be seen with every turn of the carousel.
Possessing a family heirloom in the form of an 1850’s era large wooden Dough Bowl, Susan set out, with chisels and tools in hand, to carve her own version of these giant bowls of days gone by. Carving led to the addition of pyrography whereby designs were lightly burned into each bowl, which in turn led to the addition of color by way of a process designed to maintain the food safe integrity of each bowl. Soon trivets, breadboards, and numerous hand carved high-quality originals were added, and using only locally reclaimed hardwoods from the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee, she has carved her way into many well known art galleries. Susan was honored by subsequently being juried into both the Foothills Craft Guild and Holston Mountain Artisans in the Woodcarving Category.
Susan has been honored to have be included as a craftsperson in the annual Dollywood Harvest Celebration during October for the past several years. Being driven by a very artistic imagination, and never being shy about exploring other mediums while always staying true to Appalachian tradition, Susan has perfected the art of making Corn Husk Dolls. These wonderful hand-dyed, handmade, one-of-a-kind Appalachian Dolls, Kitchen Fairies, and Kitchen Witches have added yet another juried discipline to her credit at the Holston Mountain Artisans Guild.
When asked, “what’s next”, Susan simply closes her eyes and says; “give me a minute”.