No visit to the Museum is complete without stopping by to chat with some of our studio spaces to chat with our talented team of working artists! The Museum’s studio artist program is open to visual artists working in all media. While taking advantage of large, well-lit studios, artists provide opportunities for school and public audiences to observe art in process. Swing by for a discussion or to see our artists at work!
Margaret Gregg is an experimental visual artist. She got into the arts when she discovered a love in decorating for Christmas and parties as a child. Dance, liturgies, and festival decorations followed-- Margaret would design posters and publications related to the events. She then progressed into more interactive forms, such as film, video and theatre which were more focused on specific cultural, regional, and political themes. Over the course of her artistic career, Margaret studied at various learning centers with great people. She created a production line of hats and clothing in order to support herself. She enjoys the creative environment of WKMA's resident artist program and hopes it will continue to open more creative adventures on her path.
Cecelia Pippin is a painter and ceramic artist. Currently, Pippin’s focus is in painting with oil, watercolor, and alcohol inks. Pippin has been a professional educator all her adult life. Her specialty is instructing in the art process with youth and adults. Pippin is a Washington County Master Gardener and, while teaching, always tries to impart environmental and plant education into lessons. Pippin earned a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Virginia and takes continuing education classes at Penland School of Arts and Crafts in Penland, NC and Odyssey Center for Ceramic Art in Asheville, NC.
O. Lynn Price is a self-taught portrait sculptor who has been creating art for as long as he can remember. His daughters, Lisa and Lori, have been an inspiration to his art-making process. Lynn offers instructed and supervised self-guided classes in his studio.
Melinda Fritts Payne
Melina Fritts Payne owns The Muddy Hound Pottery. She earned a degree in Studio Art from East Tennessee State University where she studied painting and ceramics. Often seeking to create joy with her work, she often mixes whimsical imagery and floral themes. Melinda has taught pottery, drawing, and painting both in her studio and for various organizations around the Tri-Cities. Her work is available for purchase at Necessities, Barter Theatre, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, and, of course, in her studio at WKMA.
Kenna Calhoun is an Abingdon, VA based portrait photographer. She received her photography degree from Virginia Intermont and has been in photography for 15 years. She specializes in newborn and family portraits. Of her work she says, "I truly love the beauty and genuine emotions that come from real moments so I love to document those sweet moments in time for families and couples."
Fiona Zahnke began her life in clay in the early 1970s when she studied ceramics at Michigan State University's Pewabic Pottery, where she became particularly interested in Raku Firing and salt-fired ware. After a stint teaching ceramics at Iowa's McNaider Museum, she moved with her family to Big Stone Gap, VA. Fiona has taught courses in hand building and wheel throwing at Mountain Empire Community College and the University of Virginia's College at Wise. She was also an artist-in-residence at Powell Valley High School and ran her own studio, Powell River Pottery. In 2000, she was selected as a finalist for the Governor's Award for the Arts. In addition to her work in ceramics, Fiona also enjoys fiber work including weaving, knitting, and felting.
Eric Drummond Smith
Eric Drummond Smith is a native of Bluefield, West Virginia. He received his BA in political science, art, and geography from Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia; his MA in East Asian studies from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; and his PhD in political science with specialties in international and comparative politics from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. He is an Associate Professor of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise where he is responsible for instruction of courses in the international and comparative politics subfields, as well as most classes in political philosophy and theory. His current research is on the logic of regime change and durability in classical Chinese thought of the Zhou, Qin, and Han Dynasties. Smith regards himself as not fitting well into any particular school of art. His work draws particularly from expressionism and neo-expressionism; surrealism; classical animation, comics, political and propaganda art, and advertising art; pop art; Chinese and Japanese traditional calligraphy, painting, and printing; folk art (particularly Appalachian, Southern, Latin American, Sub-Saharan African, and native American and Polynesian); northern European painting and printmaking of the Renaissance (especially Bosch, Bruegel, and Dürer); ancient Mediterranean and Mesopotamian art; and art brut. He is principally a two-dimensional artist, principally drawing and painting on paper, wood, and canvas (stretched and unstretched). His artistic work intentionally tries to blur the line between fine art and folk art, not to mention exploring the tensions generated by and in politics, history, faith, literature, music and the ordinary lives of (particularly Appalachian) people.
Laura Marie Blankenship
Laura Marie Blankenship is founder of LaMB Fine Art, blurring the lines between art and craft. She studied painting before going rogue. Now she experiments with natural materials, functional works, upcycling old things, and is currently selling paintings from years of painting live at concerts over on her website lambfineart.com At her core, Laura is a lover of mama earth, hiker, seeker, and guide. She has been making art and walking the mountains of southwest Virginia, northeast Tennessee, and western north Carolina in her dreams before she was born, and ever since. She was raised in Abingdon by the art she found within it and the mountains that surround it. May her work be a bridge for you to seek the beauty within and find the truth of your own life.
Rachael Hulme is an artist and educator based in Abingdon. As an artist, her personal photographic work explores themes of humor and failure through elaborate still life constructions using a mixture of digital and analog tools. As an art educator, she designs choice-based curricula for K-20 learners with a focus on personal meaning-making. She was the recipient of the Jan Meyer ’87 Traveling Fellowship Grant in 2014, the Patricia Lyon Krongard Award for Art Education in 2015, and has participated in fellowships through the Maine College of Art in Portland and the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Her work has been exhibited nationally and featured in publications by Featureshoot, aint-bad, Lenscratch, and the New York Times. She holds a BFA in Photography and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Virginia Vintage Interiors
irginia Vintage Interiors (formerly The Distressed Gentleman) is owned by Gabe Helton. VVI is a furniture refinishing business that focuses on reviving and re-imagining vintage furniture to become unique, customized pieces. Helton, also an opera singer, started out supporting himself via other creative outlets including painting houses. He is continually amazed by the dramatic transformation a coat of paint can provide. The concept for VVI came after the death of Helton's grandmother when he inherited some of her old furniture. Helton recognized the creative potential of breathing new life and beauty into this furniture while still embracing the sentimentality of keeping a beloved but outdated heirloom. VVI now transforms a variety of furniture perfect for every home. Formerly located in Bristol, Virginia Vintage moved to Art Lab on the William King Museum of Art campus in 2020. Follow Virginia Vintage Interiors on Instagram and Facebook
A native of West Texas, Holly Thomas moved to Southwest VA with her beloved husband Jim many years ago, and fell in love with this area. The two of them operated a successful award-winning decorative painting and historical restoration business for many years, and founded a local charity, Theo's Pocket 501(c)(3) art outreach. Currently, Holly is focusing more on teaching art and developing her fine art skills in several media. Her goal is to capture inner energy and hope with her 'Soul Art' series, and hone her traditional plein air oil and acrylic skills (Facebook/HollyThomasArt). She teaches homeschool artists, and specializes in teaching art to students who may be afraid of beginning an art journey, or those who have physical issues to overcome to develop their artistic skills.
Growing up as an Abingdon Virginia native, Jennifer Counts was immersed in the arts and culture of the southern Appalachian region at an early age. She credits her inherent inspiration from nature and her creative ingenuity to her Cherokee roots. Now, using any and all artistic media to express herself, Jennifer is forging her own path as a working artist in the region. In 2008 she started her own company branding both her fine art and jewelry designs under the name Grass Roots Studio. Jennifer enjoys painting in oil but has several other bodies of work in which she uses acrylic inks and other various media. In addition to painting, she also designs unique pieces of wearable art by combining her interest in healing crystals and gemstones with her skills in metalsmithing, wood-burning, and the ability to create various components from found objects. She aims to create pieces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also help people regain their inner balance of mind, body, and spirit. Jennifer's jewelry is juried into Heartwood, Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway and she is a member of Round the Mountain Artisan Network. Her work can be found in many galleries and shops around the region. Click here to check out her Facebook.
Kyle Buckland was born in Wilmington, Delaware, in January of 1984. Both parents fostered in him a deep appreciation for the arts and nature. As a child, his home was filled with a myriad of art objects and hundreds of art books of all genre. At age 14, after reading John Rewald’s The History of Impressionism, he began to take a keen interest in the French painters and the philosophies regarding plein air painting. He first became infatuated with the work of Monet, specifically his use of blues and purples to depict shadows and his ability to capture colored atmosphere. At about age 15, he purchased Daniel Wildenstein’s four volume, fifteen-hundred page catalogue raisonne of Monet’s work, and within a year he had literally worn the covers off the books. Within this same period, he moved with his family from the inner city of Wilmington, five hundred miles south, to the Appalachian region of Southwestern Virginia where his father's family was originally from. There, surrounded by mountains and lakes and thousand acre farms (some older than America, herself), he began to emulate the greats by moving outdoors and painting en plein air. At age 16, he began a long personal and obsessive journey in an attempt to capture the colored nuances of the world around him. Today, his style of painting, which is deeply rooted in the fundamental philosophies regarding Impressionism, is as unique as his subject matter is inviting. His work has been featured in Plein Air Magazine on multiple occasions. He has won numerous awards, conducted paint-outs and taught painting classes at every level. His work is represented in hundreds of private, public and corporate collections around the world. He now resides in a small nineteenth century farm house/studio in Abingdon, Virginia, with his lovely wife, Jennifer, an artist in her own right, and their two dogs and two cats. Click here to check out his Website and Facebook.
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