Akira and Larry Blount
Akira (1954-2013) Larry (n.d.)
Red Bud Figure Vessel, 21st century
wood, fiber, paper, 20 x 6 x 4 inches, 2003.23.5
Akira received a B.A. in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in 1970 started making dolls from cotton stockings. In 1972, Larry began working with wood and studied architectural restoration with an Italian master woodworker. He then worked in millwork, furniture and cabinetmaking. In 1979 Akira and Larry moved to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee with their two children. Then, in 1991 Akira and Larry began collaborating on creating interesting handmade dolls that were largely influenced by their love for nature and natural materials. In 1992, Akira recieved an Individual Artist Fellowship in craft from the Tennessee Arts Commission. As president of the National Institute of American Doll Artists, an international organization of doll artists, Akira juried and wrote the introduction to 500 Handmade Dolls, taught annually at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg and taught dollmaking in seminars around the world. Their work is included in collections around the world including Paris, France; the Sekiguchi Doll Garden in Shizuoka, Japan; the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas; and the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.
I wish someone had told me it was possible to make a living as an artist instead of the opposite. I would have taken myself seriously much earlier in life. – Akira Blount