Smoky Mountain News

February 7, 2023

The Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC), along with regional partners — including the Asheville Area Arts Council, Transylvania Community Arts Council, the Tryon Fine Arts Center, and the Arts Council of Henderson County — recently announced the 2022-2023 Artist Support Grant awardees. 

Grants were provided to 24 artists in Haywood, Buncombe, Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania counties, also called Region 17. The Artist Support Grant was created in 2020 to support individual artists during the pandemic and has quickly become a staple for local artists. 

The North Carolina Arts Council states that the Artist Support Grants are intended to support “the professional and artistic development of emerging, midcareer, and established artists” as they strive to enhance their artistic and business skills and expand their audiences.

HCAC Executive Director Morgan Beryl led the process working with the other regional arts councils and the NCAC. Region 17 received applications from 79 artists requesting funding in the amount of $203,651. Jurors were selected from throughout Region 17, with each juror having expertise in the discipline that they judged. 

“These grants make a significant contribution to an artist’s development and career,” Beryl said. “During this grant cycle, we were delighted to award 24 regional artists with grants ranging from $750 to $3,000, and totaling $49,000 in funding, which were the total funds available for Region 17 to grant to artists in this program.” 

The 24 artist awardees represent the disciplines of craft, literature, media, music and theatre, and visual arts. Awardees from Haywood County are Rachel David, Ilene Kay, and Kimberly English. 

David is a blacksmith, sculptor, designer, and maker based in Waynesville. Her metalwork practice is holistic, encompassing art, furniture, architectural elements, activism, collaborations and gardening. 

“I’m so thankful for this award — it’s humbling and a good kick in the pants to keep working,” David said. “My work is an expression of my lived experience. It is rooted in my need to generously contribute to our world, find solace in learning and exploration, and make effort towards a better and kinder, more beautiful future.”

Kay works in Argentium silver, gold, heat colored titanium and copper sheet and wire to create art jewelry using traditional fabrication metalsmithing techniques.

“Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I’m thankful for the ever-changing mountain vistas, which offer limitless inspiration for the jewelry I make,” Kay said. “I saw, texture, hammer, and form the metal with hand tools. The directness of forging metal in this manner makes each piece of my jewelry unique. No two pieces of my jewelry are alike, and each piece has a story to tell.

English is a fiber artist and educator. She earned her BFA in Fibers as a Distinguished Scholar from Savannah College of Art and Design and her MFA in Studio Art. Her work has been exhibited widely, most recently through Vox Populi, Oneoneone Gallery, and the Ackland Museum at UNC Chapel Hill. 

“This opportunity will provide support as I embark on a residency at Praxis Digital Weaving Lab, where I plan to develop a body of work that combines hand and technological processes in weaving,” English said. “As an emerging Western North Carolina artist, this support is invaluable and is sure to catalyze my blossoming practice.”

Want to go?

The Haywood County Arts Council and its regional partners congratulate the 2022-2023 awardees of the Artist Support Grants. With that, the community is encouraged to join the celebration of these talented local artists at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 3, at HCAC’s Haywood Handmade Gallery on Main Street in Waynesville.