Hi, I’m Ariel Hundley. I was born in the small town of Henry, Virginia. I grew up in a holler that my family has called home for over seven generations. I have always been passionate about the history and culture of the place I call home, the Blue Ridge and by extension, Appalachia.
While completing my Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Hollins University, I found myself more and more drawn to the idea of Appalachia and what it means to identify as Appalachian.
During undergrad I explored my heritage mostly through my minor in music which included taking banjo lessons and co-founding the Mountain Laurels, Hollins’ Appalachian Music Ensemble. Through the support and encouragement of some amazing professors, I applied and was accepted to East Tennessee State University’s Appalachian Studies Master’s Program.
After graduation, I packed up my bags and moved out to Johnson City, Tennessee. While studying at ETSU I had the opportunity to work in the Collections Management department of the Reece Museum on campus. Working directly with artifacts that were representative of Appalachian Culture was a dream come true for me. But when I was offered a position at the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum of Ferrum College, I jumped at the chance. Not only is the BRI&M the Virginia State Center for Blue Ridge Folklore, it is also conveniently located 15 minutes away from my favorite place in the entire world, my holler.
Now two years later, I am the Archivist and Curator for the BRI&M. I work with one of the premier collections of Old-Time, Bluegrass, and Traditional Blue Ridge Music ; Moonshine Lore and related artifacts; and over 30,000 photographs and artifacts in the world and it’s all directly related to the culture that I have been fascinated with my entire life. I am also the Craftsperson Coordinator for the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival. Because our office abides by the “all-hands-on-deck” philosophy, I also help to organize and run many of the other events that the BRI&M puts on every year.
On a more personal note, my boyfriend and I spend our free time remodeling my great-grandparents house making us the 4th generation of my family to call the place home. We are also working on trying to produce a more manageable vegetable garden this year. Last year, it got a little out of hand. I couldn’t be more pleased with the life that I am living. I have a wonderful job doing something that I love and am incredibly passionate about. The best part is that I didn’t have to leave the place that I love more than anything to achieve that dream.