Saturday, March 9, 2024

RIP-student, colleague, friend

This has been a hard post to write. I'll have to begin with a few words from her obituary written by her beloved granddaughter:
Joann Cox Wilson passed away peacefully in her home in late February 2024. A dedicated educator and lover of art, Joann’s passion for teaching and creativity touched the lives of many. Joann found simple joy in the elegant movement of dragonfly wings and the delicate melodies of dulcimer music. She cherished the many friendships that she gained through the various arts. During her lifetime she explored and seemed to master almost every art form you can imagine, painting, pottery, basketweaving, beading, quilting and weaving, just to name a few.

I first met Joann who knows how many years ago when she enrolled in a workshop I was teaching at John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. It was a beginning tapestry class, if I remember correctly. Joann was already a tapestry weaver but she cheerfully joined in with the basic techniques I was showing and made her sampler. It might have been in that first class that she began to ask her question "What would happen if...?" 

I continued to teach workshops at the Folk School and each time when I received my roster of students I began to see Joann's name included. After awhile, I automatically looked to the bottom of any roster I got from anywhere I'd be teaching to see if Joann Wilson's name appeared (and hoped it would be there). The workshops I gave were all around the southeast: in addition to John C. Campbell Folk School, I taught at Lake Yale for Florida Tropical Weavers; Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN; Penland School of Crafts in Penland, NC; Winter Park, FL for the Weavers of Orlando; Aya Studio in Stuart, FL; Tapestry Weavers South retreat/workshop in Elkin, NC. Joann was there. 

In fact, after she'd been in about four of my workshops she began to call herself my "groupie" but little did she know how important she was to me—she was the person in the class I could depend on to ask the very challenging "What if...?" questions. And the answer(s) we came up with together would not only benefit her but also the other students—and especially me. 

At a two week session at Penland in 2019 I asked Joann to demonstrate paper weaving as a designing approach so that her hands and the weaving could be photographed (by Chris Dant) for a book I was writing. If you have Tapestry Design Basics and Beyond you'll find Joann's hands featured on pages 130-131. In fact, the photo on page 131 is also featured on the back cover of the book. I also used her notan design explorations and two small weavings based on those in the book (page 136).

In October 2023 Joann joined another class I taught bringing her back to Arrowmont once more. That was the last time I saw her. 

In late February I learned of Joann's sudden and untimely passing from a good friend of hers. They often traveled together to my workshops (and others). In fact, they'd been scheduled to return to the Folk School in the following week for another tapestry class being taught by MJ Lord. But that was not to be.

I looked through my years of photos to find ones of Joann in various classes. Here are only a few from those times and many places.

I'll end with a final bit from Joann's obituary. These words describe her so well. 
Joann will be remembered for her laugh, her generosity, and her unwavering love for her family. Her legacy lives on in the countless lives that she enriched through her teaching and her appreciation for the beauty in the simple things in life.
Rest In Peace, Joann Cox Wilson, student, colleague, friend.


  1. What a beautiful blog post about Joann! The photos add so much and everyone will know what a loss this is for anyone whose life she touched.

  2. So very sorry to hear you have lost a good friend. It’s hard when it happens. :(

  3. Thank you, Tommye. We will miss her.

  4. Hi, I am a semi-recent reader of your blog and I just wanted to express my condolences on the loss of your friend. Your words honor her memory and this post was a beautiful tribute to someone who no doubt meant much to many people. She will forever be a part of you. Sending a hug from NYC

  5. What a wonderful tribute. I feel so fortunate to have met Joann during our tapestry class at Arrowmont last October.