After 30 years, Becky Cannon’s company, i play, has become a $10 million-a-year manufacturing operation that makes eco-friendly baby products for national chains. Next month, Cannon and crew will open a retail shop in Asheville, and she’s at work on a 500-page book about her life and philosophy. And, she won our Aya Award. Is there anything this woman can’t do?
by Jess McCuan
portrait by Matt Rose
Becky Cannon loves babies. Not just her own babies (now 29 and 33), and not just in that adoring, “oh-how-cute” way that some adults view others’ children. Her love of babies is enduring and interesting, a theme that has become both her life’s philosophy and a way for a growing crowd of people to make a living. “When I see a baby, my heart opens up, and I recognize her pure light,” she writes in the preface to what will be an incredibly long (500-plus pages) book about her principles of baby care, due out next year. Her doting on babies can even sound pushy at times. “I love those little babies,” she said in a recent interview. “I want to change their food, I want to change their lives. I want to get to them, and I go through their parents to do it.”
Smithsonian called her one of the “New Stars of Photography” in March. Through Pilar Belmonte’s lens, the world is a shadowy, mysterious place.
by Ursula Gullow
portrait by Matt Rose
You could say it was the tiny nip of a mosquito that launched Pilar Belmonte’s career in photography.
In 2003, her son contracted La Crosse Encephalitis, a rare viral disease transmitted by insects. His symptoms ranged from severe headaches, lethargy and vomiting to dramatic night terrors. To put herself at ease through his ordeal, Belmonte, now 57, began photographing her son as a way to distance herself from the experience. “It was my way of centering,” Belmonte says. “I could literally step back and look at it more objectively without being in the middle of it.”
Asheville designers create swimsuits on their own terms.
by Jess McCuan
photos by Zaire Kacz
An Asheville swimsuit is an unusual concept right from the start.
After all, many Ashevilleans are nutty-crunchy, not all that showy, and live very far from the beach. “This is a very different vibe than Miami,” says West Asheville dress designer Brooke Priddy, whose clothing line is Ship to Shore. “People aren’t necessarily out dozing off in the sand looking for a golden tan. Instead, we’re out at DuPont State Forest sliding on our butts down the slippery rocks at Triple Falls.”
One slippery side in particular, she says, was the inspiration for her “swim dress,” a stretchy, flowy mini-dress made of swimsuit-like material. Priddy says she and fiancé Ryan Conrad were hanging out with friends at Dupont on Memorial Day weekend, lounging on rocks by the falls. Priddy watched as a brave young woman scaled the boulders and slid down the waterfall on her derriere. “She was incredibly graceful at it,” Priddy says. “I designed that swimsuit with the idea that you could get adventurous in it.” Or, alternatively, you could throw on some heels and a sun-hat and wear it to the tiki bar for a drink.
The art of canning, learned from a granny, left an indelible mark.
by Ashley English
photo by Naomi Johnson
There are some skills gained in our lives that leave a mark so profound, so enduring, that we never forget them. Learning to ride a bike or tie my shoes, for example—my mother taught me those while I was quite young. My father taught me how to jump off a diving board when I was four years old, with the courage and conviction that I’d float back up to the surface unscathed.
While I never could have known it at the time, an additional skill, home canning (taught by my maternal grandmother when I was a child), has also withstood the test of time, and it now factors prominently in both my livelihood and home life. Who knew canning would be just as essential, just as vital, as bicycles, shoelaces and diving boards?
interview by Jess McCuan
photo by Matt Rose
Name: Costanza Knight
Lives in: Hendersonville
Occupation: painter and art instructor, Juicy Art Classes
Juicy is a great word. A lot of my paintings are juicy. I paint in water media, with watercolor and acrylics. I like to literally water down my paint. I thought that fit my classes too—and, it’s just a fun word.
Do you do anything juicy in the summer months? I eat a lot of fresh fruit. Tropical fruits, like pineapple.
Will you go somewhere juicy? I’ll be painting in my studio a lot, and I’ll go to Fripp Island [off the coast of South Carolina], where my sister has a home.
What do you like about Fripp? I like the Gullah influence. It’s very inspirational for me. I paint often about African Americans, in particular a story called The People Could Fly. I love that history.
Anything else on that island? I love to go swim at night in the ocean. My sister’s house is really close to it. If I see some of the phosphorescent creatures in the water, that’s really primo. It’s magical. The first time I saw them, I had no idea, and they floated up to where I was. Secretly, I like to go skinny dipping. Under a full moon, of course. The moon is always part of it when you skinny dip.