I have been to Black Belt Treasures twice recently. This is the nonprofit artist gallery in Camden. This is one of the places to put on your must visit list when touring the Black Belt. If you have time for only a day trip, we recommend that you visit Gees Bend to meet the world famous Gees Bend Quilters and then take the ferry across the Alabama River to Camden to Black Belt Treasures.
Black Belt Treasures has evolved over the past 6 years to something more than the founders ever dreamed it could be. It was envisioned as an artist gallery to showcase the talents of artists, craftsmen, writers, musicians and vendors in the Black Belt region of Alabama. It started out with 75 artists and now has well over 300. It has surpassed the mission of displaying and selling by becoming an educational center as well. It now offers classes and seminars in everything creative. It has inspired the residents of the area who had no idea they possessed artistic talents to try. Some of these have gone on to sell in the gallery as well as other places. According to Director Sulynn Creswell, the mission of arts education is now equal to the mission of being an economic development initiative. Barely a week goes by when there is not some kind of class for children or adults. There are also many demonstration activities where the artists who show at Black Belt Treasures interact with visitors to teach them about the artist’s craft.
Visitors come from all over to visit Black Belt Treasures. Last week there were visitors from California and Brussels, Belgium. They were amazed at the variety of displays. They bought everything from hand printed posters about coffee to local literature. My personal favorites are the pottery and the jewelry, at least for this week. My house is full of arts and objects I bought there. My children jokingly call it “The Black Belt Collection”. I have a sampling of many artists, writers, potters, jewelers, and furniture makers. It never fails to amaze me at the variety and quality of the products created in the Black Belt. It also never fails to amaze me at how every time I take somebody there, I seldom fail to find something new I haven’t seen and must add to my collection. This can be a real habit, but at least this way I am not gambling away my money. I have a sure thing – a piece of the Black Belt that really is a treasure!