Raised in Somerset, Vallorie Henderson is proud of her rural Kentucky roots. “I've lived and worked in both large and small communities in and outside of the United States. My Kentucky heritage has always provided me with a strong sense of self and the confidence to approach life with enthusiasm and curiosity.” Vallorie said of herself recently. “I will always call Kentucky my home.”
Vallorie’s rich Appalachian heritage provided early exposure to multiple traditional crafts. She is an experienced rivercane basket maker in the Eastern Cherokee tradition as well as an award-winning quilter. Berea College in Berea, Kentucky was a natural choice for the young fiber artist to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in industrial arts and art. Berea’s student labor program gave Vallorie valuable training and work experience as a studio weaver in the student craft industry, Fireside Weaving. Upon graduation from Berea, Vallorie earned a Master of Fine Arts with a focus in Fibers from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her MFA exhibition explored the connections between early American quilt patterns and four harness weaving drafts.
Vallorie’s understanding and love of fibers led her into a blended career that includes certification with the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works as well as multiple arts administration and preservation positions with both private and state organizations that has spanned the past thirty years.
In 1997, through a series of happenstance events, Vallorie decided to leave full-time arts administration to focus on the creation of a unique line of hand-felted contemporary craft work. Her work began with shearing, processing and dyeing of natural wool from her six Hampshire Suffolk ewes. Over the next four years, Vallorie earned recognition for her felt work as an active juried participant in the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program, the Kentucky Arts Council’s Directory of Teaching Artists and the Artists’ Advisory Council for the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. She has twice received Brown – Forman’s coveted Early Times Scholarships to study with national experts in her specific areas of artistic interest and has traveled internationally with Sister Cities of Louisville, Kentucky to participate in multiple artists’ exchange programs in Germany and Ireland. In 2010 Vallorie received the NICHE Award in Wearable Fiber from NICHE Magazine, a national trade publication published by The Rosen Design Group in Baltimore, Maryland.
Vallorie continues to produce, market, and exhibit her work on a national and regional level. It is included in many private and corporate collections, most recently, the University of Kentucky’s Arts in Healthcare Program.