A 600-acre sanctuary that empowers individuals to develop, explore, and express their creative voices. As one of the first artist communities in the U.S., the Hambidge Center has a distinguished history of supporting individual artists in a residency program. The Center was created in 1934 by Mary Hambidge, who established the artist enclave and sustainable farm in memory of her artist partner, Jay Hambidge.
Mary Crovatt was born in 1885 and grew up in the small coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia. After spending her teenage years at a boarding school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she moved to New York City in 1905, where she pursued acting and artist’s modeling. Resourceful and vivacious, the diminutive redhead (4'9" with flaming red hair) also took to the vaudeville stage as a professional whistler accompanied by Jimmy, her pet mockingbird. After nearly a decade of working as a model and singer, her life took a dramatic turn when she became involved with Jay Hambidge (1867–1924), an artist and writer who achieved fame with his books on design and “dynamic symmetry.” His theory of proportion, linking natural human and plant growth to classical Greek design, became popular among other artists such as Maxwell Armfield, George Bellows, and Robert Henri, among others. Tiffany and Company based a collection of jewelry on his design theory and the Chrysler Corporation employed his tenets in designing a line of automobiles. In 1919, Jay Hambidge's research took the couple to Greece where Mary was drawn to the ancient art of weaving and where she learned the fundamentals of the craft that would become her life’s work.
His ideas on design and their travels to Greece made a deep, lasting impact on Mary Hambidge, who took his last name although they never married. Ten years after his sudden death in 1924, she would apply what she learned – that creativity can best be nurtured through working closely with nature – by establishing the Hambidge retreat and a sustainable farm. In the early days of Hambidge, she employed local women to create exceptional weavings that would one day be featured in many exhibits including the Smithsonian and MOMA. Later she broadened the scope of the Center by inviting artists for extended stays. After her death in 1973, the Center evolved into a formal and competitive residency program open to creative individuals from all walks of life. The Hambidge Center is a member of the Alliance of Artist's Communities and was recognized with the 1996 Cultural Olympiad Regional Designation Award in the Arts.