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In search of the muse: Haywood Arts names new art and gallery manager

A recent work by Lauren Medford. (File photo) A recent work by Lauren Medford. (File photo)

Local artist Lauren Medford was recently promoted to the art and gallery manager at the Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) in downtown Waynesville. 

A native of Haywood County, Medford holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in advertising and graphic design from Southwestern Community College, and a Master of Fine Arts from Western Carolina University.

Medford is a working artist. When describing her work, she said, “My mediums of choice are printmaking, collage and fibrous sculpture. I work in themes of camp, fandom, fashion, and diva sensibilities.” 

Prior to becoming full-time with HCAC, Medford worked to expand programs at the gallery, improve branding and increase their reach. The Smoky Mountain News recently sat down with Medford to learn more about her story. 

Smoky Mountain News: What is your first memory of producing a piece of art?

Lauren Medford: I remember being in an art class at Junaluska Elementary School [in Waynesville] in the first grade. Our assignment was to make a winter scene in soft pastels. The teacher entered my piece into the student art exhibit. My parents and I went to the exhibit. I remember how proud I was to see my art on a wall among the other students’ work.

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SMN: What about the style and “vibe” of your work.

LM: My work addresses the aesthetics of flamboyance, glamour, and attitude to express the “camp” sensibilities in popular culture. These concepts are explored through the selection of subject matter that underscores the campiness in popular culture and everyday life. Reoccurring themes in my work include camp, color, excess, flamboyance, and mock-glamour. 

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A recent work by Lauren Medford. (File photo)

SMN: Tell us about your new full-time role with the Haywood County Arts Council.

LM: I started at HCAC in November of 2020 part-time as a gallery attendant. Once [HCAC Executive Director] Morgan Beryl became our new director in the summer of 2021, she moved me into a marketing and graphic design position. I was eager to create new branding for HCAC and its new programs and events. I’m also the coordinator for the artist member program. 

At the end of 2022, our volunteer gallery coordinator, Pamela Tiffany, announced she was ready to take a step back and spend more time with family. Thus, I was promoted to HCAC’s first-ever art and gallery manager. 

I manage the Haywood Handmade gallery on 86 North Main Street in Waynesville. This includes receiving new inventory for retail and exhibits, staging work in retail, and working with our gallery volunteers and artist members. I still create all our advertising materials, oversee our social media platforms, website and coordinate the artist memberships. Every day is different and I absolutely love it that way.

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SMN: What’s something you would tell folks about HCAC they may not already know?

LM: We offer many opportunities to our artist members. HCAC also has many programs and events for the community at-large from art workshops to the annual Smoky Mountains Bluegrass Festival. For more information about our artist member opportunities, as well as the programs and events we offer, visit HCAC online.

SMN: What’s one (or two or three) pieces of advice you would give other female artists?

LM: Always listen to your gut, not just in your art practice, but in life. Hear what people say, but be selective to whom you listen to. Never let anyone out-work you — always be the hardest worker in the room.

 

Want to go?

The learn more about upcoming events, exhibits, and showcases at the Haywood County Arts Council, click on haywoodarts.org. For more on Lauren Medford and Showgirl Press, click on facebook.com/showgirlpress or visit her Instagram (@showgirlpress).

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