I've been looking forward to being an Ashevillian for many years -- since the '80s -- and finally managed to get myself here via a combination of wish fulfillment and fortunate circumstance. Two-and-a-half years ago, I took my first book arts class, with Joyce Sievers at the John C. Campbell Folk School, and immediately fell in love with the craft of bookmaking and with the art of artists' books.
We have a wonderful books arts learning center in Asheville, BookWorks, that offers workshops, artist studio space and artist-group meeting space. This and individual teachers I've met in the area have introduced me to a talented community of artists whose interests intersect in the combination of art and the book. It's becoming impossible to separate what I'm learning formally through organized classes and informally from conversations with others who share this same passion.
I don't think it's surprising that someone who loves the written word as much as I do, and the feel of a book in my hand, would gravitate to book arts and to artists' books as an art form. The more I explore, the more astonished I am by the history and by the phenomenal work of artists in the field. How could I not have been aware of all this?