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Seventh Annual Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts Hosted by Florence Thomas Art School Happening Throughout August

By Joe Johnson

Florence Thomas Art School in downtown West Jefferson, N.C., will be hosting the seventh annual Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts throughout the month of August; four female regional artists’ works will be exhibited in the art school’s gallery all month long. Events will be held alongside the exhibition from August 9th to August 17th.

            The Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts is an annual event designed to celebrate and remember Corey Anne Considine’s life by examining and celebrating women and their influence in the arts while supporting and nurturing young female artists in the process.

Corey Anne Considine passed away in a vehicle accident in Calistoga, CA on June 6th, 2013. A native of Ashe County, Corey Anne would have celebrated her 30th birthday in August 2013. From her youngest days, Corey Anne had a passion for drawing, painting, dance, design, and was a fervent advocate for women and girls. Corey Anne’s father, Pat Considine, worked with Florence Thomas Art School to honor her memory with a multiday celebration aimed at empowering women pursuing artistic passions. This year marks the seventh anniversary of the first Corey Anne Celebration event. Each year, a new “Emerging Artist” is named from a selection of applicants; the Florence Thomas Art School defines “Emerging Artist” as an individual who has great potential in her artistic practice but has not yet received major recognition for her work, does not exhibit regularly, or make a significant amount of income from her work. This year’s Emerging Artist is Elizabeth Lauer, a local potter and elementary school art teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary.

            Four female artists of the region will be displaying their artwork during this year’s Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts throughout August: Elizabeth Lauer, Kim Abernethy, Norma Farthing Murphy, and Jennifer Murphy.

            Elizabeth Lauer, this year’s Emerging Artist, is a local elementary school teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary. When she is not in the classroom teaching kids about art, she is renovating her home in Fleetwood and throwing on the pottery wheel in the evenings. Ten years ago, during her senior year of high school, Elizabeth sat down at the pottery wheel for the first time. This eventually led Elizabeth to venture away from her home in Kansas City, Missouri and relocate to Appalachian State University to study art education. During college Elizabeth continued to fall in love with ceramics as well as fibers and all mediums sculptural. After four wonderful years at ASU, Elizabeth graduated in May of 2013 and has been teaching art ever since, first in Hickory and currently in Ashe County. As she grows her home studio, Elizabeth also creates work through the Craft Enrichment Program at Appalachian State University, a group of potters that have been a revitalizing community for Elizabeth and have helped her grow as an artist and educator. She is thrilled with the opportunity to put clay in the hands of many young artists and mugs on the countertops of numerous kitchens.

            Kim Abernethy is a painter who has lived in Boone for 30 plus years with her husband Tom. During her early years as an artist, Kim’s art took the form of photography and interior design. These days, she can be found painting by the scenic pathways, byways, and rivers of the High Country. Kim has a deep love for the mountains and focuses on those places untouched by development. Using oil as her medium, much of her work is done outdoors or en plein air; Kim has always possessed a heightened awareness of, and an appreciation for, the beauty in the world around her. The experience of creating art outdoors gives her a connection to the work and allows her to convey a strong sense of place and time in her paintings. She expands on this experience by using the plein air pieces as a basis to create larger works in her Boone, North Carolina studio.

            Norma Farthing Murphy is known as one of the most imaginative watercolor and mixed-media artists in the High Country. Norma grew up playing outdoors in woods and creeks, dreaming of lovely ladies in flowery dresses while paging through the Sears & Roebuck catalog. “I am definitely a captive of my mountain background,” said Norma, “I was drawing when I was 3 years old. I’ve been interested in painting people, especially women, for as long as I can remember.” In 1980, Norma was one of 20 artists from around the world who participated in the Great Blue Ridge Fresco Experience with master fresco artist Ben Long. Since that time, she has won awards. Honors, and grants from a long list of institutions and sponsors. “The world of a painter is an intimate place where life has control, sometimes a sanctuary from a life where control seems to have gone astray,” said Norma, “Having painted for fifty years, I feel I am finally coming into a deeper appreciation of life and art, and how they support each other. I have survived life’s little struggles so far because I have found in art: escape, exploration, joy, solitude, companionship, confidence, and growth. I realize now that painting has become my diary and my way of understanding life.”

            Jennifer Murphy, as the daughter of an artist, was born with a paintbrush in hand. Sharing a love of painting alongside her mother felt like having a secret language. Jennifer’s love of roaming the Appalachian countryside has always offered spirited inspirations. She searches for sights that have memories to share. Jennifer’s brushstrokes seem like moments of joy as her painted story unfolds.

            These four artists’ works will be displayed in the Florence Thomas Art School gallery throughout the month of August. From August 9th to August 17th, events for the Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts will be held alongside the women’s art exhibitions. A Gallery Crawl & Opening Reception for the Corey Anne Celebration will be held on August 9th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. An Old Time & Bluegrass Concert by The Sheets Family Band will also be held on August 9th, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. An Expressive Arts Workshop with Pat Morrison is being held on August 16th, with the time TBA. Finally, the Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts will culminate its main events with a Symposium on August 17th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., which will feature artist talks by Elizabeth Lauer, Kim Abernethy, Norma Murphy, and Jennifer Murphy, as well as keynote speaker Mary Greene speaking on the topic of “Traditions in the High Country: an artist’s journey bridging cultures through music.”

            For more information about The Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts, please visit: https://www.florenceartschool.org/special-events/the-corey-anne-celebration-of-women-in-the-arts/