Archived Arts & Entertainment

Bringing a world of art into your own backyard

art frFor Norma Hendrix, it’s all about connecting the dots.

“I love working in a community of artists,” she said. “I really like pulling all of those dots together, where you create a sense of community with the energy of people working side-by-side.”


Executive director of the Cullowhee Mountain ARTS, a nonprofit organization bringing creative workshops to the campus of Western Carolina University, Hendrix is gearing up for this year’s installment of programs that are kicking off on June 16.

“When people come and experience these programs, they are totally energized about learning and being involved in a community of other artists,” she said. “All of these artists go back to their studios completely charged up and ready to create.”

Coming into its second year, the vast array of workshops bring together professional artists from around the country. The program aims to nurture creativity at every skill level, where students and teachers alike are able to flourish in an electric environment.

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“People that come here will end up meeting other artists and making lifelong friends from another part of the country,” Hendrix said. “Everyone who comes ends up wandering through the area, which is a great way to infuse the economies of Cullowhee and Sylva.”

During the five weeks of workshops, running from June 16 to July 26, each five-day course provides a different genre of art, ranging from photography to painting, pottery to sculpture, bookmaking to mixed media. The sessions showcase 19 professional artists from around the United States, each of distinct and successful backgrounds in their respective fields.

“Cullowhee offers artists concentrated time and community to work with professionals,” said mixed media artist Lisa Pressman. “Magic happens when creative people live and work together in this environment. Students go home with ideas and techniques that can fuel their work for months, if not years.”

Teaching the course “Painting with Encaustic: Layers, Richness and Personal Vision,” Pressman is based out of New Jersey. Encaustic, which is the art of painting with beeswax, will be her focus in a classroom that combines the history, safety and numerous techniques involved. 

“My focus is the individual student and their expression,” she said. “A variety of techniques, tools and exercises are used to explore personal imagery, abstract as well as representational. Experimentation is the focus along with attention to art fundamentals and editing, content and having fun.”

A painter from central Wisconsin, Rebecca Crowell will be teaching “Oil and Wax, extended: Abstract Painting with Cold Wax.” Like Pressman, Crowell is a second year instructor at Cullowhee Mountain ARTS. In her classroom, Crowell puts an emphasis on experimentation and opening up the creative flow, rather than aiming to beat the clock with a finished piece.

“There is a high level of interaction that is ongoing, since everyone stays on campus,” Crowell said. “This ‘cross-pollination,’ and sometimes outright collaboration, makes for an exciting week.”

With an average course cost of $495, attendees are provided real-life professional instruction and advice. There are also options available for meal plans, with lodging on campus included for an additional cost.

“If you do the math, you’ll see how much value you can get with each class,” Hendrix said. “You’re learning from someone really notable in their field.”

Hendrix points out the numerous presentations and demonstrations that will be free and open to the public during the week. Scholarships for workshop tuition are also given out to WCU students interested in a career in fine art through the Friends of the Arts at WCU. Internships are provided for other students looking to learn about a creative medium right from the source.

“These college students get the workshop for free with their assistantship,” she said. “They get to work side-by-side with an artist and see firsthand how the creative process works, and how to become a professional in their field.”

With the second season of programs only weeks away, Hendrix has a long-term vision of eventually incorporating creative writing, film and the performing arts.

“We’re trying to create learning communities, an adult camp for adults, where they stay here in Cullowhee, which is the idea of combining entrepreneurship and innovation,” she said.

So, why should communities rally around Cullowhee Mountain ARTS and its artists?

“An artist is a person with a job and a place in the community like any other, and we’re all coming to understand the idea of local support in economic terms,” Crowell said. “But it goes beyond that. The opportunity to appreciate and support creative people and their work is life enhancing and affirming everyone’s inherent creativity.”


Art for Kids

There will also be several summer youth art camp workshops that will be held by the Cullowhee Mountain ARTS at Western Carolina University. For more information go to


Want to learn?

The Cullowhee Mountain ARTS adult workshops will be held from June 16 to July 26 at Western Carolina University. For more information, go to

• Lisa Pressman - (Mixed Media with Encaustic Painting: All Levels) “Layers, Richness, and Personal Vision” June 16–21, $600.

• Rebecca Crowell – (Oil and Wax Painting: Advanced, Masters) “Oil and Wax: Abstract Painting with Cold Wax Medium, 2”, June 16–21, $630.

• Jeff Oestreich – (Ceramics: Intermediate - Advanced) “A Closer Look at Function and Detail” June 16–21, $570.

• Greg Newington – (Photography: All levels) “Five Days as a Photojournalist” June 16–21, $560.

• Stuart Shils – (Oil Painting: Advanced - Masters Level) “The Structure of the Visual Moment” June 23–28, $875.

• Jody Alexander – (Book Arts/Mixed Media/Sculpture – All Levels including Beginner) “The Stitcherly Book” June 23–28,  $530.

• Rebecca Crowell – (Oil Painting with Cold Wax: Intermediate - Advanced) “Oil and Wax: Abstract Painting with Cold Wax” June 23–28, $630.

• Janice Mason Steeves – (Painting: Intermediate - Masters Level) “Visual Language and the Art of Critique” June 23–28, $600.

• Catherine Kehoe – (Oil Painting: Advanced - Masters) “Painting Loud and Clear - Still Life” July 7–12, $600.

• Randall Stoltzfus – (Mixed Media Painting - All Levels) “Expanding the Palette: Enriching Paint with Mixed Media” July 7–12, $530.

• Linda Soberman – (Printmaking / Mixed media: All Levels) “Building Imagery: Photo Transfers and Pronto Plate Lithography” July 7–12 , $580.

• Nina Bagley – (Book Arts and Jewelry: All Levels) “Book of Treasures” July 7–12, Tuition: $560.

• Kerry Vander Meer – (Printmaking, Mixed Media: Intermediate – Advanced) “Mixed Media Monotype” July 14–19, Tuition: $610.

• Julie Friedman – (Paper cuts & Book Arts: Intermediate to Masters Level) “Paper Cuts” – July 14–19, Tuition: $525.

• Gay Smith – (Ceramics: Intermediate to Advanced, space for 2 beginners) “Fresh and Lively: Soft Altering on the Wheel”, July 14–19, Tuition: $540.

• Charles Basham – (Painting: Intermediate to Advanced) “Landscape Painting - Observation and Conceptualization, July 14–19 Tuition: $520.

• Judy Richardson – (Sculpture: Open to All Levels) “Sculpting with Found Materials” July 21–26, $560.

• Kenn Kotara – (Mixed Media: Open to All Levels) “Mixing the Media, Maximizing the Effect” July 21–26, $520. 

• Hayne Bayless – (Ceramics: Intermediate to Advanced) “Slabs and Extrusions” July 21–26, $540.

• Martha Madigan – (Photography/Photograms: Open to All Levels) “Photographic Solar Printing, Nature Inspired” July 21–July 26, $600.

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