Rick K. Stewart
(b.1960) lives in Kodak in Sevier County
white oak and cedar tub, 16 inches, 2003.5.2
Sixth generation cooper Rick Stewart learned from his grandfather Alex Stewart’s master crafting and artistry skills. In 1983 Alex Stewart received the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, America’s highest honor for traditional artists Grandchildren Rick and Renée Stewart have endeavored to follow in his footsteps. Rick Stewart assisted his grandfather at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, in 1983. After Alex’s death, Rick returned to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to be part of the Tennessee program in 1986. In 1988 he participated in a six month residency in Sato, Japan visiting Japanese coopers and sharing skills.
In 1992, Stewart created the award for the Tennessee Governors Arts Awards. Established in 1971, the Governor’s Arts Awards is produced biennially by the Tennessee Arts Commission and recognizes individuals and organizations whose contributions to the cultural life of Tennessee are outstanding. The awards themselves represent artistic genius from some of the finest working artists across the state of Tennessee. Recipients of the 1992 awards included Chet Atkins, Blues City Cultural Center, Memphis, Shelby Foote, Joseph E. Hodges, Jubilee Community Arts, Knoxville, Shell & Miller Advertising, Joy Brown Wiener, Russel Wiener, and The Arts Center Trust. In 2010 Stewart and his woodcarving sister Renee were both featured in Cogswell’s book Tradition: Tennessee Lives and Legacies. Since then, Rick has continued perfecting the art of coopering, the process of making churns, buckets and other staved wooden vessels.