Polly Page

Woodcarver/doll maker, Pleasant Hill
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2013)

In her long career as a woodcarver, Polly Page (1918-   ) has preserved the legacy of Cumberland County’s Pleasant Hill Academy, one of Tennessee’s most notable Appalachian settlement schools. Part of a wider education and social reform movement in isolated areas of the southern mountains, the school also had programs encouraging student involvement in traditional arts and crafts. Polly enrolled there in 1929 and soon became the star pupil of carving teacher Margaret Campbell, mastering many human and animal figures. She developed her own signature character dolls, “Hitty” and “Aunt Jenny and Uncle Pink,” based on people in the community. When the academy closed in the 1940s, Polly became a leader and teacher in the Pleasant Hill Community Crafts program that succeeded it. She carved nonstop throughout the years and gained a wide reputation, starting her own Polly Page Craft Center in the 1970s, where she hosts visitors and customers. Polly inspired Jane Fonda’s title character in the 1981 film The Dollmaker. Still active in her eighth decade as a carver, Polly continues to produce work reflective of the human history and natural surroundings of her place in the world.

Governor’s Arts Award profile