The Ammons Sisters
The way to tell a "story" is as different with each person as the stories and individuals
themselves. Doreyl Ammons Cain of Tuckasegee is an award-
Techniques vary with individual artists. Pastel can be blended or
used with visible strokes. There is no drying time, and no allowances need to be
made for a change in color when dry, unlike oil paint or acrylics.
“Pastels originated in the 16th century,” says Doreyl, “and still exist today, as
fresh as the day they were painted...no restoration needed, ever! ’Pastels’ does not at
all refer to pale colors, as is commonly thought, but comes from the French word
‘pastische’ because the pure, powdered pigment is ground into a paste, with a small
amount of gum binder, and then rolled into sticks. The infinite variety of colors in the
Pastel palette range from soft and subtle to bold and brilliant. I love to work with
Pastels because of this freedom,” says Doreyl. “My art is best ‘in the moment,’ and my
subject of choice is the nature that surrounds me at home here in the mountains.”
Amy Ammons Garza is a storyteller who tells tales of growing up in the
mountains in a house with no electricity or plumbing. As a child she sat at the foot of
her grandfather and listened to tales of how her ancestors, seven generations past,
were a part of those who traveled to Western North Carolina and settled the isolated
mountains. His stories intrigued her, and so she stored them away until she grew
up and began to write about them. Now she has eight books, three of which are a
trilogy of her family's heritage in the NC mountains.
"Our family struggled to make a living," says Amy. "They did as others...
gardened, picked wild berries, cut timber, worked on the railroad, made corn
liquor...anything to put food on the table and shoes on their feet. And in among it all,
they had love stories, fun stories, faith stories, how to 'made do,' and how to 'keep on
For 30 years, the Ammons Sisters have performed for the general
public and in school settings. As Amy tells the stories, Doreyl spontaneously
illustrates them on two large 4' x 6' easels, bringing the stories alive before the eyes
of the audience. "All the stories are based on true experiences of our family," says
Amy. "My sister and I are carriers of our heritage, hoping to instill in our audience the
knowledge that we are all different, yet wonderful in our own way; that 'story' is a way
to preserve and honor our past to help us know that we are each a link to the future of
the family of mankind!"