Meet Ceramics Artist Gay Smith - updated!

• Sunday, April 16, 2017 •
Gay Smith, aka Gertrude Graha m Smith, nicknamed Gay, is a studio potter and teaching artist who singles fires her porcelain ware in a soda kiln near Penland, NC. Her grant awards include a North Carolina Arts Council Visual Arts Fellowship in 2008/9, and Regional Artist Project Grants in 2009/10 and 2012/13. She’s held artist-in-residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation and at Penland School. Her teaching credits include workshops at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts , Penland School, the Harvard Ceramics Studio, and the Findhorn Foundation in Northern Scotland. Her work is represented internationally, and is in many collections including the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC and Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. She’s been featured in Ceramics Monthly magazine, and her work is included in numerous publications including Making Marks and Functional Pottery by Robin Hopper, Working with Clay by Susan Peterson, and the Lark series of 100 Teapots, Vases, etc. Currently she serves on the Board of Trustees at Penland School.

Enjoy this live interview with Gay in her studio in Bakersville, North Carolina.  

 Click Here .  Video created by  Julie Boisseau, 2013.

Gay Smith is teaching the workshop, "Looking Lively: Soft Altering on the Wheel" at Cullowhee Mountain Arts, June 11 - 16 where Gay will

Gay will guide students to work with exciting and easily utilized methods of altering the forms and surfaces of freshly thrown pots. "Working with soft clay makes pots look fresh and sassy, like they can jump up and dance," says Gay. Everything from basic throwing techniques to shaping pots into squares, ovals, triangles; to texturing surfaces using faceting, fluting, and impressing are on offer; lids too. Finishing touches, like handles and feet, will be added as a means to enhance and complete your pots. Gay will work with each Individual's interests. Each person's work will receive attention in order to take the next creative/technical leap. All levels of skill from beginning on are heartily welcome. We’ll engage in lively conversations ranging over our interests, technical questions, making your pots your own, passions, raw glazing/single firing, and firing a soda kiln. 

Spaces are still available, more...

What Matters

• Sunday, May 22, 2016 •

May 22, 2016

Founding and operating a non-profit that serves the arts is plain hard work. Non-profits have small staffs and each person must wear many hats. Countless records must be kept, communications maintained, board meetings to orchestrate and follow through on.

 All of our wonderful programs come about after hundreds of details have been managed and put in place. It takes a score of volunteers to fill in the gaps we cannot cover. If we were not all steered by our Mission, “to serve artists and writers of all levels to grow and expand in their creative efforts.” the work would seem overwhelming.

I am reminded of What Really Matters at unexpected moments when someone, like many of you, takes the time to let us know that what we do has made a difference in your life.

Please let me share with you two wonderful stories that were sent to me recently from two who have taken workshops with CMA:

North Carolina poet, Janet Joyner, sent me a letter letter this week this news


"Janet Joyner's varied poems include lyrical descriptions of the natural world and draw deft portraits of people and the complicated connections between us. Waterborne is threaded with vivid images and insights." 

"Sometimes they are splendid, such as fallen leaves in such a mass / it seemed the sky had turned sea/and spilled the sun at our feet ; sometimes wry, as when the wife of God begins by saying, I could have told you it would end / this way, and ends by suggesting that God Give the grasses another chance ; and sometimes tragic, as in her extraordinary poem, What the Egg Knows, showing us the kid hung on a fence post to watch dawn die over Laramie, how he is no different from you or me, like any creature swimming or striding / in search of his bliss." 


   --Ellen Bass, author of Like a Beggar, The Human Line, and Mules of Love

Sylva artist, Melba Cooper, had this to say about her art works that emerged from her study bees and colony collapse:

“In 2008, I felt shocked awake when I became aware of the serious nature of the colony collapse. I begin to make some representational paintings of bees and beehives. About that time I had several health challenges so painting was a healing place for me to go each day of my recovery. I began to focus more on the deep healing place of the hexagon patterns of cellular structure. My paintings begin to zoom into the interior of the hive. I felt connected and well. I wondered if I could incorporate beeswax into my paintings. In answer to that question, Norma Hendrix, the director of Cullowhee Mountain Arts (CMA), guided me to master teachers in cold wax abstract painting. For the past two years I have been able to study with Janice Mason Steeves, Rebecca Crowell, and Lisa Pressman. I found this medium provided me an informed abstract intuitive approach to painting. I felt freedom of “flying just for the feel of the wind” and the touch of the paint.”

Now, 100 plus paintings later, and Melba has just exhibited her show “Pollination” at The Circular Church in Charleston, SC,
April 1 – 3, which then traveled to Beaufort, SC for an exhibit at the Charles Street Gallery, April 8- 29.
Both exhibit were highly attended.

What We Need? Time and Space

• Thursday, March 31, 2016 •

Artists & Writers Need Time and Space to Create. 
Here is an invitation to "Come to the Lake."

How often have we thought, “If I could just get away and work without the demands of all my day–to–day concerns, I could”…finish that chapter, outline my next work, start a new series of paintings, have time to walk and think and hear the Muse again…“?

All of us have the need to retreat and re-fill. Those of us engaged in the arts need it to the point of desperation at times.Because many of us work out of home studios or offices, our creative time is subject to a myriad of intrusions. Even friends and loved ones might view time carved out for creative work not as “work” and therefore as negotiable. It takes tremendous determination to protect our studio or writing time and still we must stop and grab lunch, and if our spaces are at home, maybe throw in a load of laundry while we are at it - all interruptions to the hard job of being fully present in our true intention.

This is why CMA began programming artist and writer retreats in 2014 - some with and others without workshops. The idea was to prepare a time and space for artists and writers to get away and be supported and nurtured in the serenity of Lake Logan Retreat Center and its unspoiled wilderness. Situated in approximately 300 acres of pristine beauty, the retreat center offers charming and comfortable cabins nestled among winding hiking and walking trails surrounding the 85-acre lake, fed by the Pigeon River flowing down from the Blue Ridge parkway. CMA sets up an airy and light filled studio and provides quiet and private writing spaces for both visual artists and writers. Supplementary yoga, mindfulness sessions, an evening fire circle, and massages by appointment are offered to enrich your retreat experience. The Cullowhee Mountain Arts board of directors and I see this gathering as one of the jewels in our programming for writers and artists of every media.

Each cabin has a lovely view of the lake, private rooms with baths, with linens and coffee makers provided. The dining hall – with its large fireplaces, couches and chairs – provides a relaxing place to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee any time of the day. Three delicious meals are chef-prepared, using local veggies in season added to the menu. As a practicing artist myself, I understand the necessity of unfettered time and space to do our “sacred” work – to use our talents and give our gifts back to the world.

Our first retreat of 2016 is a little over a month away, May 9 – 14, and spaces are still available. (All the Details). Why not join us? Come to the Lake! (All our 2016 Retreats)

I hope to see you there!
Norma Hendrix, Executive Director