Mark Newberry is fifth generation chairmaker from Red Boiling Springs, TN, and a 2009 awardee of the Tennessee Governor’s Folklife Heritage Award. Since before the Civil War, the Newberrys have been building chairs with a commitment to workmanship and tradition. The family holds close to the old-fashioned chair designs and construction technique. The lean posts, handwoven hickory bark bottoms, and bent backs found on today’s chairs are the same time-tested styles as were used in the 19th century. The Newberrys harvest and mill their own chair timber on the family farmland. Newberry chairs were exhibited in the Southern Art Federation’s exhibit “Tradition/Innovation: Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art.” They were also featured in Roby Cogswell’s book Tradition: Tennessee Lives and Legacies. Mark continues to demonstrate his chairmaking at many annual events, including the Mountaineer Folk Festival, the Wilson County Fair, and the Macon County Fair. He will work with apprentice Malika Scheu, his adult niece, to further instruct her in the complete process from harvesting to constructing a finished chair.
Watch this page for updates on the team’s progress.