This story originally appeared in the March–April edition of All About Women magazine under the title "Women making their mark: Shauna Caldwell." All About Women magazine is published by Mountain Times Publications.
When people speak about Shauna Caldwell, they use words like “intentional,” “caring,” “wise” and “creative.” A High Country native born in Boone and raised in Banner Elk, Shauna is an artist, herbalist and graduate student in the Appalachian Studies program at Appalachian State University. Her Bachelor of Arts degrees in studio art and art education combine her two great passions: teaching and photography.
Shauna says her artistic focus is honoring people and their relationships in the community, specifically women of Appalachia. Her photography project “In the Roots of Wise Women” was published in October, in which she paired portraits of women she admires with individual lumen prints of plants significant to them. Her goal was to allow women from her community to express themselves, both through the setting of the portrait and plant with which they most identified.
“My research is bringing women together, because I feel like often the image that we have of the Appalachia is very masculine,” Shauna says. “Women and their folk ways were written off. They weren’t documented and if they were, it was just a side note. So my research is bringing women together to talk about what it means to be and become a woman in Appalachia, because it’s not just one person’s perspective.”
Brooke Hofsess, an associate professor in the art education department at ASU and one of Shauna’s mentors, describes Shauna as a quiet storyteller — a woman who leads by example and lives with intention.
“I have never met a young woman who is so full of wisdom and presence and creativity,” Brooke says. “And she follows through so beautifully on everything that she embarks on, which I really admire.”
When she’s not working on projects or in classes, Shauna teaches workshops on everything from photography to herbalogy. She is a board member of the North Carolina Herb Association and has worked with the New River Conservancy to give workshops to women connected to specific portions of land on the New River.
No matter what she is working on, Shauna wants to connect her work back to the community of Appalachia.
“Living here is everything to me, basically. I grew up here,” Shauna muses. “It’s in my bones, in a way. So everything I make is about this place in one way or another.”
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About Appalachian State University
As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.