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FEATURED ARTIST / E m i ly W i l l i a mso n LOCAL ARTIST / St ev e M i tc h e l l STUDIO VISIT / G e r ry & B etsy B a n n a n ART IS SHARP / Way n e W h i t e ' s " B ig L ic k B o o m ! " STUD E N T S P OT L IG H TS , U P C O M I N G E V E N TS , & M O R E

J U l y 2012 / I S S U E 2


Regional Arts & Cultural Calendar Classes & Workshop Listings Local Artist Directory Organizational Directories


VIA Noke Magazine is designed and owned by Chelsea Brandt and Emily Sibitzky co-owners of Desired Hype Design, LLC

STAFF PATTY QUILTER Director of Advertising Distributing Issue 1 at Festival in the Park. Photo by Patty Quilter.

We ran full force into the launch of our inaugural issue at the beginning of June! Nearly five thousand copies of VIA Noke have been handed out at festivals or placed in nearly 100 locations throughout Roanoke City, Roanoke County, and Salem City. A few were even dropped off in Floyd, Moneta, and Rocky Mount. Thankfully, the magazine has been well received by the local art community and we have been complimented multiple times on our hard work and dedication. So far we have been recognized by individuals, organizations, artists, Mike Allen’s Arts & Extras blog at the Roanoke Times, and were even featured on the Early Mornin’ show on WDBJ7. (We have the video linked on our website.) A special thanks goes out Melissa Gaona for a great experience during our first live interview, as well as to Mateo Marquez at exclamations for meeting us there extra early so we could film a segment inside! We are excited to announce two new monthly columns as well! The multi-talented Tif Robinette has joined our staff and will conduct monthly studio visits to let the community know who, where, when, and how to visit local artists’ studios. We also have a new review column that will be written by a group of anonymous contributors under the pseudonym “Naomi DePlume.” We hope that these columns will broaden the community’s perspective, initiate dialog, and increase attendance at local events. Until next month,




Emily Williamson, Steve Mitchell, Jeff Hofmann, Gerry & Betsy Bannan, Ciara Roberts, Peyton Stanley Brandon Paterak

JOIN, LIKE, FOLLOW @DesiredHype @VIANokeMagazine

VIA Noke magazine is published by Desired Hyped Design, LLC. It is a free publication printed monthly ©Copyright 2012 Desired Hype Design LLC Reproduction without permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved. Printed locally by Chocklett Press

ta b l e o f C O N T E N T s

FEATURED ARTIST PAGE 24 EMILY WILLIAMSON Cover Image: And So The Journey Began Acrylic -2012



Pittsburgh, PA



Wayne White’s Big Lick Boom



Gerry & Betsy Bannan



Peyton Stanley



Ciara Roberts



Steve Mitchell

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E V E N T S OF NOTE 2 Hollins Playwright Lab Guest Speaker Series

Taubman Museum of Art Theatre - July 9, 16, & 23 Free & Open to the public - 7:30pm A guest speaker series in collaboration with the Taubman Museum of Art. July 2 - Playwright and solo performer Sean Christopher Lewis July 9 - Actor and director Scott Bradley July 16 - Dramatists Guild Director of Business Affairs David H. Faux July 23 - Producing Artistic Director David Gothard

7 Overnight Sensations

Hollins Little Theatre Main Stage - 8:00pm Free! (Donations accepted) 6 playwrights are randomly teamed with 6 directors and 6 pre-selected casts of local actors, celebrities and patrons of the arts. Together they create in only 24 hours 6 newly brewed 10-minute plays presented to the public. (540)566-5396 for more information.

9 On-Camera Acting Class

Studio Roanoke - July 9 - 13 1:00 - 5:00pm each day - $125 - Age 16+ One week of intense extensive on-camera training taught by Sherilyn Lawson. This workshop introduces the basics of acting for the camera, terminology and the audition process.

21 Marty Thau & The Bazaar Present: Red Star Rocks It

Highland Park Ampitheatre - 3:00-9:00pm $12 In Advance / $15 At The Gate Featuring: The Bastards Of Fate, Eternal Summers, The Situationist, The Missionaries, Aquarius, John Barry Conception, & Another Roadside Attraction. (540)309-0928 for more information.

31 Marathon Reading: The Grapes of Wrath

Taubman Museum of Art - July 31 - August 3 Included with price of admision A marathon reading of all 30 chapters of John Steinbeck’s classic The Grapes of Wrath. Readings will take place over the course of four days and will be conducted by museum staff and community members. This event coincides with Dorthea Lange’s America exhibit.

For more information about the events listed here plus many more, visit The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge’s website at





This past month Pittsburgh, PA hosted it’s annual arts festival, the “Three Rivers Arts Festival.” What started as a little outdoor art show in the late 50’s has turned into the region’s largest multidisciplinary showcase of visual art and performing arts. Through it’s history it’s slow growth into what it is today hasn’t deterred the festivals main mission to connect the community to arts and culture. Founded in the 1960’s by the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art, the festival has presented more than 10,000 visual and performing artists which has consistently inspired the residents and visitors of the Pittsburgh area. Taking place in Point State Park at the tip of the city offers a beautiful backdrop of the city’s skyline and is also the starting place for the Ohio River. “How do I get tickets?” The beauty of the festival is that it is free to all who want to participate. The whole idea is to inspire, entertain and bring art to the people. “Can I participate as an artist?” absolutely, Three Rivers Arts Festival celebrates the artist. Among bringing the community together, they want to bring artists from all mediums together. If you happen to find yourself in the Pittsburgh area next year between June 1 - 10th we highly recommend paying a visit to the festival. For more information visit the festival’s website at

Top: Melissa Bryan,”Desperation.” Bottom: Rachel Nieborg & Ine Mulder, “Girls n’ Guns.”


“Beauty is embarrassing,” contemporary artist Wayne White drawled to a packed crowd at the opening for his massive, site-specific installation, BIG LICK BOOM, on June 7th. His artist talk at the Taubman Museum of Art was not the dry art-speak expected at such an event. Instead, Wayne wove raucous story-telling, fake art star bravado, banjo picking, cussing puppets, and southern charm into a motivational performance. But as packed as The Taubman audience seemed that night (sold out and standing room only), Wayne’s target audience were only represented by a handful of young people standing in the back. Wayne’s message was to emerging artists, whom he urged to get out of their small pond, and go somewhere that challenged them. His motivational speech about the greasy innards of the art world, and how he met that challenge through tireless subversion and humor, worked like a shot in the arm. This kind of talk simply isn’t often heard in this area, and it seemed a tragedy that few young people were in attendance. Wayne White is known for his set design and puppeteering on numerous projects, including the cult-classic TV show, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, as well as his career as a contemporary painter. He hails originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, but resides in Los Angeles now. His monumental BIG LICK BOOM is an epic portrayal of Roanoke’s transition from tiny Big Lick to the boom-town of Roanoke. A team of local artists assisted in the construction of the full gallery installation that took nearly six weeks to build. Wayne White approaches Roanoke history with a humorous social critique. His in-depth research brings the wildness of early Roanoke to light: racially charged brawls, shoot-outs, taverns, brothels, and mega-industrial companies sprang up like mushrooms in the quiet town of Big Lick. White’s mechanized installation moves, it makes noise, and it is just as bigger-than-life as Wayne himself. The installation, curated by Leah Stoddard, Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Art at The Taubman, is a bold new direction for the museum. Engaging an art star to work within the community of Roanoke, to create a monument to our distinct sense of place, is a thrilling occurrence. The moment Wayne White stepped onto the stage to deliver his artist talk, The Taubman Museum of Art was accidentally cool. BIG LICK BOOM will be showing until September 15th, when it will go the way of all site-specific, ephemeral work: it will be torn apart and scrapped, like a movie set after the shoot. Wayne’s installations revolve around immediacy and a big splash. Dust will never settle on BIG LICK BOOM, and it will disappear before you know it.

Editor’s Note: This column is written each month by different authors with diverse viewpoints. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or opinions of VIA Noke Magazine or its publishers.



All photos by Jeff Hofmann.



by Tif Robinette Affordable studio spaces for artists seem to be in short supply and high demand in Roanoke. But moving your studio out of your spare bedroom and bringing your work to a more public, professional, and accessible space can be a huge career step for artists. Betsy Hale Bannan and Gerry Bannan, a dynamic artist couple working and teaching in the Roanoke region, are making that plunge this summer. Working out of a cool space downtown, while still keeping costs low, were priorities for these two painters. In a true Do-It-Yourself spirit, they found a frightfully dirty space on 4th Street, previously a concrete business, and are transforming it into two slick studios and an adventurous mini-gallery. Still in the process of the transition into this new space, cleverly christened “BanG!”, I caught up with the busy artists.

T: Betsy, could you tell me a little about your work? B: I think what people most know me by are my paintings, the female figures of the stewardesses, the Madonna-type figures. They are large, symbolic, and iconic, but lately I’ve been doing drawings on paper that are organic, with seed pods. I also am making these tiny paintings that are poured oil paint. They are really just all about the paint. They have come out looking like galaxies, nebulas, and explosions. I like that they are quick and intuitive. I like doing something different. The large paintings are laden down with all the symbolism. They are hard. They are really hard paintings to do, like a puzzle. How does an airplane fit visually with a 1940’s movies star? I like working on different things and they aren’t all the same bodies of work.

T: Gerry, what are you working on right now? G: I have been doing ink drawings on mylar. I’ve always

“Our Girl in Tinian,” Betsy Hale Bannan. Oil on linen, 72” x 56”.



liked the way ink slides across mylar. In doing these drawings, I’ve pulled the drawing out of my paintings. I’ve felt an obligation to have paintings be tamed by drawing. A painting had to behave itself. I think the more I do the drawings, the more they separate. The paintings are very carefully planned. I have found a way to make my drawings be intuitive and then let my paintings be more intuitive, but [the new paintings] will be different from anything I’ve ever done.

T: What is your current subject matter? G: The drawings are really specific in subject matter, an assembly of objects that could be together, some drawn from life and some from my imagination. I let the objects start to tell me a story. I’m drawing a shell. What’s next to the shell? Oh, a pair of scissors. They get to be the remnants of a fairytale, or a narrative. The plant forms in them are a connection to the paintings.

T: As oil painters working on a fairly large scale in cramped quarters in your home, how do you think moving to this larger space will affect your materials, scale, or practice? G: Larger space will allow for having more work stations, having a drawing portion and a painting portion of my studio. I feel the two parts of my work [drawing and painting] getting pulled apart further. I like the ability to be able to work in two different ways, and walk across the room and draw, not having them truncated.

T: What about scale? G: I’d like to see if things get bigger. But I’m a pragmatist and will work in panels, modularly, like the 14th century altar pieces.

T: Could you talk about the process about finding this particular space? B: It’s funny how it seemed to take a long time, but also all of a sudden. We had to physically be in the house for our studios when we had a child, but now he is grown and moving off to college. G: Financial constraints too, we always found places to live where we could have extra room for us to work in the home. Our apartment in Brooklyn was very big for New York standards, and we always worked out of the house. B: I liked working at home after my full time job and kid, but now I feel like I could leave the house at 7:30 in the evening to go to the studio to work. G: It has taken a few years to find something, but it has to happen by word of mouth. A lot of leads don’t work out; spaces that could have possibilities, but when the right one comes up you have to snatch it. B: We just drove around and got numbers off of available buildings. Ideally we wanted something a little bigger, but now that we are in here, this is all we could manage. If the ceilings were higher or if the space were bigger it would have been so much more daunting.

Top: “Homunculus,” Gerry Bannan. Oil, encaustic, and gold leaf, 48” x 36”, 2009. Bottom: “Come Fly With Me,” Betsy Hale Bannan. Oil on linen, 72” x 56”.


G: This whole notion of not working outside the G: The chance encounter spawns ideas, “Let’s do house wasn’t only because of having a child. You this thing, then that thing turns into something else.” go to work, come home from work, do stuff at home, and we feared we would be wasting our T: So this space will be that bridge for you. Tell me about your vision for the mini-gallery. money on a space we wouldn’t use. B: I feared it would be unrealistic. But now it’s to- G: We want the gallery/exhibition space to invite people to be experimental in a small space. You tally doable. may not have enough to fill Olin Hall. But you have a T: Do you think moving your studio outside your little body of work, maybe drawings. I think it can be more dynamic, changing all the time. home will bump up sales or increase visibility? G: One thing that sparked all this was one of the B: Less formal, more spontaneous. And of course if problems of working in the home. This town has no one is in there, we can hang our stuff in between. never had a successful commercial gallery that And having openings! The idea of an art party is inwasn’t a co-op. The art idea is that you work at triguing, taking the stuffiness out, I like the idea of home and then other people show and sell your hanging out with art. That’s how artists live, and I work for you, but that doesn’t happen here. If don’t think people are comfortable doing that. Or someone wants to see my work, I don’t want to used to it. show out of my house. I want to show my work in a G: People know how to go out and enjoy music, neutral environment. but how can that experience be analogous to art? B: It’s more objective and professional: the clean, Everyone is afraid to say things about the work at blank space. It has made us more accessible, peo- openings. ple are already stopping by. B: You eat your cheese and stay 45 minutes, then G: We both work out of town, all day, and we leave. The objective is that this is accessible. have never had those experiences of just bumpTo view more work or contact the artists, ing into people or… check out their websites: & B: Never happenstance or organic meetings.


“Passage,” Gerry Bannan. Ink on mylar, 12” x 24”, 2012.


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Local student and artist Peyton Stanley will be a senior at Community High School this fall. Although she only recently began tapping into her artistic talents in a serious manner, she has been creative since she was very young. “I have been interested in arts since I was finger painting and drawing in coloring books in elementary school,” she explained, “but it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I really began to take it seriously.” She has a firm grasp on her own style of painting, which is clearly inspired by some of her favorite abstract expressionists from the 20th century; Wassily Kandinsky, James Rosenquist, and Sol LeWitt. Although she has a sizable collection of work created in oil and charcoal, photography is her favorite medium. Her photography work makes a similar approach to her subjects as her paintings, capturing images from unconventional angles and perspectives. Two of her favorite photographers are the photorealist and painter Chuck Close and local Lexington, Virginia native Sally Mann. “I would like to continue studying the arts at Memphis College of Art or Virginia Commonwealth University. I plan on at least minoring in art, without a doubt,” Peyton explains. “My ultimate dream is to be able to support myself with my photography and paintings.”







Ciara Roberts is a local college student who is going a far less traditional route than many of her peers when it comes to her studies in digital photography. Currently residing in Ferrum, she is heading into her second year at the New York Institute for Photography from the comfort of her own home. “NYIP sends me books and assignments; once I complete the assignment I mail it in and they send back grades,” she explains. But working remotely does not mean that her education is any less strenuous. “It’s more hands-on that I thought it would be, seeing as you don’t attend actual classes. But you do the work when it’s convenient to you. I enjoy it quite a bit.” Her talent clearly shines though, overshadowing any doubts of such an independent education, and her work reflects her strong understanding of light and composition. Her wish to eventually find a

job in the fashion photography industry is also very evident in her choice of subject matter, which consists largely of editorial-style portraits. But her leading inspiration differs from day to day. “It could vary from a thought, an insect, or a skull,” she explains, referring to photographs she took using a skull as her subject. “It’s whatever catches my eye that moment.” Some of her favorite artists are Emily Soto, Andy Warhol, Rankin, Van Gogh, and Salvador Dali. Ciara’s other passion is collecting vintage items, ranging from clothing and accessories to antique cameras. “Usually the stranger the better,” she says of her approach in choosing these pieces. “At times these items make their way into my photography.” More of her work can be found on her website at http://


Story by Emily Sibitzky

I consider myself fortunate to have recently spent an afternoon at the home and studio of local artist Steve Mitchell. After meeting Steve and discovering his unique style, I was excited to see where and how he worked to create his pottery. I excitedly followed him from his outside studio to his glazing workshop then to his homemade wood-firing kiln, leaving with a further understanding of the pottery-making process and a greater appreciation for the hard work ceramicists put into each piece. E: Tell me about yourself and how you began


Wood fired V I ACrachoir, N O KorE wine spittoon.

working with pottery. Did you have any formal education in ceramics? S: I went to East Tennessee State because they had a degree in transportation and I wanted to work for the railroad. But about the time I was graduating Norfolk Southern was laying people off left and right so I stayed another year and got a degree in marketing. When I came out I found a job in insurance. I was a manager of claims for Nationwide Insurance; it was a pretty stressful job. Nobody is ever having a good day when they call the claims department, so you’re not talking to them unless they’ve broken a leg or wrecked their car. So I decided to try pottery to unwind... or I should say again. I dated a potter a long time ago; I taught her how to do stained glass and she taught me pottery. I always thought, “I could do better than this.” And so about 25 years later I tried again over at

ST E V E M I TC H E L L the Brambleton Center, and this time I seemed to have more of a knack for it. So I got a wheel and the hobby started to kind of run wild. I would take my vacation time to go learn and take workshops from famous potters a couple of weeks a year. I did that for about ten years. Then I finally had a glaze formulation class where I learned to actually make my own glazes and the dynamics of glaze-making. About eight years later I decided, “I can do this,” so I decided to leave the company. Of course, now I’m always trying to do something that sells. For most potters, even though they don’t want to do producCrystalline glazed vessel and platter. tion work, that’s what it’s all about. If you want to try to make a living doing this you have to produce a There’s ilmenite, manganese, tin oxide, vanadium lot of work. There’s no way around it. pentoxide, all of these weird – some of them rare – earth metals that are used to make the colors that E: So you make all of your own glazes? I have in my glazes. For most people, the first thing S: I do. I was rotten at chemistry in school so this is they’re attracted to is the color, and hopefully later my punishment, because this is “chemistry world.” they fall in love with the form and the details and all That’s what all of this is about; how materials react of that. So I have most of the spectrum of materials for glaze making. I have at least 5lbs of almost every with other materials. element on the earth, and 50lbs of most of them. There are all kinds of borates, feldspars, nephelite; these are naturally mined clays and they come Some glazes are activated by salt, which is enfrom particular mines. There’s a clay called “Albany tered into the kiln at about 2300º; it turns into a gas, clay,” or Albany slip. It was mined in Albany, New vaporizes, and swirls around in the kiln and puts a York and was the only true black clay. All of these glaze over everything. Back in the old days that’s people built their entire production around that one how they glazed pots, from natural fly ash or salt. I glaze, but they ran out of it and it’s not available have always fired at cone 10, 2350º, but it’s a very anymore. That was the only place on the planet slow process. I met a guy at a workshop who told where that particular clay was found. Fortunately me, “All of the things you do at cone 10 you can do all of the clay that I’ve used for my work has come at cone 6,” which is quite a bit cooler. So I gave it from the same place. But I had that happen to a a shot, and sure enough... the ash melts at cone 6, frit from Germany. They all have this thumbprint, a salt turns into a gas at cone 6, but it saves half of the profile of their chemical analysis, so I broke it down wood. It takes me as long and as much firewood to to its chemical base and I took all of the raw materi- go from cone 6 to cone 10 as it takes just to get to als and made that frit myself. It took me two years cone 6, so this cuts my time and wood use in half. I’m reformulating all of my glazes so that they work to get it just right.

Some Helpful Ceramics Terminology Cone: Usually simply referred to as cones, pyrometric cones are used to measure the effect of the kiln’s atmosphere on the glazes being fired. Cones are made up of refractories, such as silica, and melting agents; each type of cone is carefully formulated and manufactured for accuracy. Rather than talking about temperature, potters almost always refer to the cone a pot is fired to. Cone numbers go from cone 022 to cone 14, with numbers beginning with a zero being of lower temperature than those without. (via

Frit: A glaze material which is derived from flux and silica which are melted together and reground into a fine powder. Glaze: A thin coating of glass. An impervious silicate coating, which is developed in clay ware by the fusion under heat of inorganic materials. Kiln: A furnace of refractory clay bricks for firing pottery and for fusing glass. Slip: Clay mixed with water with a thick consistency. Used in casting and decoration. Definitions via

LO C A L A RT I ST Zinc wants to go into a crystallized formation, but needs a little bit of a catalyst, which in this case is titanium dioxide. You put a little bit of that in the glaze and coat it on pretty thick. At 2350º the glaze gets real loose and starts flowing off the pot into a tray underneath. I crash cool it down to about 1900º and that solidifies it a bit. At that point the zinc starts flowing towards the titanium dioxide molecules and the crystals will start growing. The longer you let it sit at that temperature the bigger the crystals will get.

Horse hair pot.

at cone 6, which just means using different fluxing agents. I’m now using minerals that oddly I had but hadn’t really used before.

It’s a lot of work to get a crystal on any pot. On some the crystals get too big and all run together. I don’t like that but it’s funny, some people really like when the crystals grow together. If I don’t like them they usually end up in the ditch. All potters have a ditch; it’s where the stuff that doesn’t work out very well ends up. If there’s something that I’m not pleased about but someone might like it I’ll throw it in my sale instead. So someone will ask, “What’s wrong with this one?” and I’ll say, “Oh it didn’t do what I wanted it to do.” And they think it’s perfect so they’re excited that they get it for 70% off.

I use Indian wood blocks to create patterns on some pieces. I think the wood is made out of some kind of teak or mahogany, but [the carvers] sit there E: Do you have a signature style or create any sig- with little knives and carve these little patterns into nature pieces? the wood blocks; it just seems amazing to me. They S: You have to do something to distinguish yourself use them to print batik fabric, or wallpaper some or you’re not going to sell anything. The horsehair people say. I stamp the clay and stretch it out to pots I make are about two to three times larger than creates texture. You can line them up carefully and a lot of potters will make them. For those I glaze the never see where the pattern starts and stops. What I inside red and the outside snow white. I heat the like about it is that you get this natural, irregular feel pot up to about a thousand degrees, 1100ºF actu- to these pieces. ally, and as it cools down there is about a fifty deI’m working on a thing called “terra sigillata.” It’s gree window where I can stick a piece of coarse something that the Greeks kind of came across by horse hair in and burn a little carbon trail into the accident. You put the clay in a bucket and use a white clay. Interior designers really like that black, deflocculant – they used vinegars, I use a silicate white, and red. – and it causes all of the particles to deflect each I have a wood firing kiln as well as an electric kiln so other so they don’t settle. I mix it up, let it set overfor about six months of the year I do the wood firing night, and the next morning all of the big particles work and for the other six months I do my crystalline are at the bottom and the super-fine particles are work in the electric kiln. Chemistry and the temper- all in the solution on top. You can dip the pots or ature cycle create the crystalline. The glaze solution spray it on and then polish it on the wheel. The fine is made up of 25% zinc, which is what they use to particles create an almost enamel-like surface. I’m create the crystalline pattern on galvanized metal. thinking my next generation of pots will be like that.



ST E V E M I TC H E L L I went to France with a friend of mine who was a wine importer and we went around France tasting all kinds of different wines from different regions. We got down to the Loire Valley to see Marc Ollivier, who is like the rockstar of the Loire Valley in winemaking. So I introduced myself, “Steve Mitchell, potier,” and he responded, “Potier!? My great, great grandpa potier!” And he runs out of this beautiful stone and walnut cellar into this huge mansion and he comes back down with this roughly hand-shaped crachoir, or spittoon. And he goes, “You make?” and I say, “Yeah, I can make!” So I came back home and made like a hundred of them, large and small. I’ve actually sold a bunch. I have a friend who went to Gascony, France and there was one of my crachoirs sitting on the bar; he took a picture of it and sent it to me. So I have them all over. I have a lot of them in Washington and Oregon because there are a lot of winemakers there. It’s a piece that I make that not many people really know much about.

come in to help. We’ll fire it all over a two-day period. A lot of wood firings take about three days. We do 8-hour shifts and rotate. You’re up most of that time, but if you get a reliable crew who knows what they’re doing you can go to sleep for a few hours, maybe four or five at a time. It takes a lot of work; some people just don’t know.

E: Where can people find your work or how can they reach you?

S: My website is and people are welcome to contact me to come by the studio and gallery.

E: Tell me about your wood firing kiln.

S: I was renting a kiln and fired it about ten times, at the average cost of a thousand bucks a pop, and I thought, “You know what? I can go home and build one.” The bricks are 8lbs a piece and there are probably about 6,000 of them. The first chamber is the initial woodburning chamber and the middle one is the first lair chamber. You stack ware all the way up to the ceiling and then brick it up to close it off. The third chamber is the salt chamber. Salt eats into the firebrick and gives them this finite life; that’s why I was paying to use that other kiln, because you’re literally wearing it out as you’re firing. I researched this for two years before I built it; I made hundreds of drawings. There are places where I mortared, but most of it is just dry-stacked. My kiln will hold about 350 pots, but with the larger sizes I make it will hold about 80 per chamber. I throw pretty fast; I’ll spend 6 weeks throwing and making all of the pots I’m going to make and I’ll spend another month glazing them and getting them ready for the kiln. Then I’ll spend another month splitting wood. In one week I’ll load the kiln, seal up all the doors, get everything cleaned up and ready, and then I have a crew of guys that also fire pots in here Wood fire kiln prepared for a firing.





Left: Fragile ,Pastel -2008 Right: Indigo With A Flower , Acrylic - 2010


Many people in our region are familiar with Emily Williamson’s work and may be completely unaware of that fact. But if you have ever been to the town of Floyd you have more than likely seen her work in some shape or form. Whether it was her banner for one of the earlier Floydfests or a playful graphic on a t-shirt at The Republic of Floyd, it is likely that anyone familiar the art scene there has come in contact with some of this multi-talented artist’s work. Immediately intrigued by her style when we first saw it, we did a little research and found that Emily is somewhat of a celebrity artist in her hometown... but we were curious to know what she creates when she is not limited by the boundaries of a commissioned piece. VIA: Tell us about your education in art. When did you begin creating and did you receive any formal training? E: As a child I was always a little bit better at art than the other kids, and I was aware of that. I won a couple of little contests when I was small. Somewhere around middle school, a time when people come to a point where they either drop art or continue with it, I realized that I had the ability to capture a likeness of people. I started out with black and white pencils as my medium of choice. When I was in high school I realized that I had some power with my artistic abilities and I could use it as a tool to get attention from my classmates. I started drawing pictures of rock stars that I was into from photos in Rolling Stone Magazine. I went to VCU for art but after the first semester I dropped out and lived with a friend and a couple of other people for a year. After that my family convinced me to go back and give it another shot, so I went for one more semester, but I was a country girl in the city and didn’t really know how to deal with life there at only 18, 19 years old. I did pick up some skills and knowledge from there but I didn’t complete a degree. There’s a lot to



E M I LY W I L L I A M S O N learn about art but I already know how to do what I do. Since then I’ve just been working for myself doing commissions.

VIA: What is your favorite medium to work with? E: I prefer to use acrylic paint over oil because oil doesn’t dry fast enough for me and I can go over the layers of a piece I’m working on sooner with acrylic paint. I spent many years doing pastels and I really enjoyed that, but I got out of working with them. In recent years I haven’t done much pastel work, I guess in part because it’s expensive to frame your work and pastels don’t last as long, it’s crumbly and dust falls off, so I’ve been working mostly with acrylic for about the past seven years.

VIA: Tell us about your work doing commissions. E: I’ve been doing a lot of commissions for a long time now, because I’m trying to make my living as an artist. I’m a very versatile artist. I don’t just do portraits… that’s just something I have a knack for and enjoy; I’m capable of a lot of different styles. I’m good at taking people’s ideas and seeing them and translating them, so I’ve gotten all sorts of different commissions. The Republic of Floyd Emporium commissioned me to do these ideas that Tom Ryan, the owner, comes up with and he puts them on t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, a whole handful of stuff. There’s a Jethro Tull poster that I used the framework of for a piece that was about the Republic of Floyd, with a bluegrass band in the center instead of Jethro and his flute. I enjoy meeting the challenges people give to me but I’ve gotten kind of stuck in having art being my moneymaker and accepting jobs that people come to me with offering money and say, “draw this for me.” I don’t follow that inspired feeling to the end result; I force myself to sit down and finish. So I’ve been doing a lot of this sort of forced artwork for several years. I’m a single mom, so I just have to make it work.

VIA: What influences the work that you create when you’re not doing a commissioned piece?

E: When it comes to things that I’m inspired to create... lately I’ve stopped accepting so many commissions and I’ve only started accepting the ones that I really care about. I have always enjoyed doing portraits; I feel like I’m spending time with the person that I’m doing a drawing of. I feel like it’s a chance for me to delve into someone’s energy that way. I like to do lots of pictures of my friends. I’m a nature girl, my friends and I like to go out and do lots of photo shoots surrounded by nature. I think my friends are beautiful and the photos from our shoots inspire me so I render them and use them as inspiration for my work. They all get a little slice of immortality that they don’t mind too much. My I’ll Miss You piece is from one of our photo shoots. It’s of one of my best friends, Leia, that I dance with as well; we hiked up to the top of a waterfall (Alta Mons in

F E AT U R E D A R T I S T Shawsville) and went in the woods and into the water. The piece is of her from the back with a veil draped over her and walking away, like into the great beyond, but it’s very focused on the ripples in the water. Pictures of performers, musicians, dancers, people in costumes are subject matters that I would like to get into more. I’m interested in circus performers and that whole imagery. I usually like to work from photographs rather than to live paint, although I like to do that too.

VIA: Is your work displayed anywhere else at the moment, other than at The Republic of Floyd? E: I submitted a couple of pieces to the Jacksonville Center’s September juried show. I have a couple of things in the Bell Gallery in Floyd. But for right now, I’m really working to create this whole new line. I’ve only recently come to this new place where I have a scrap of money and can relax and try to rediscover myself as an artist.

VIA: Do you feel like you are well supported by the art communities around you? E: I feel like I’m well supported in Floyd. It’s not often that a person can make a living off of their artwork but I did make a living for quite a while off of commissions just in Floyd. And it’s cool that Tom Ryan built his brand around my images for The Republic of Floyd. As for support in Roanoke, I’ve had a great response. The people at Cups Coffee & Tea in Grandin have been very supportive and invited me to come back any time. There was a frame shop and gallery where I showed a guy my card but he was looking for something more edgy. I don’t think I’ve tried hard enough to put my art into Roanoke. But as far as I can tell Roanoke is pretty welcoming; I don’t see an incredible amount of difficulty to get in.

VIA: Are there any other facets of your life you believe readers will find interesting about you? E: I sing with a band; we call ourselves the Apologetics. I’m also part of a [belly] dance group with several of my friends. I enjoy dance, choreography, costume making, singing; sort of all of these similar creative things. My dad, Seth Williamson, was a radio announcer who was based out of Roanoke. He passed away in October. He was the Morning Classics guy on 89.1. He had a couple of other shows, like Bluegrass & Americana. He was very much a nature guy too, which I think trickled down to me.

VIA: How can people contact you if they are interested in your work? E: I’m on Facebook and can be reached by my email address at smellslikedirt@



Left: The Day of the Wedding. Acrylic, 2012. Right: I’ll Miss You. Acrylic, 2012.








Profile for Emily Sibitzky

VIA Noke Magazine - Issue 2  

Issue 2 - July 2012 Featuring Emily Wiliamson Art is Sharp: Wayne White's "Big Lick Boom" Studio Visit: Gerry & Betsy Bannan High School S...

VIA Noke Magazine - Issue 2  

Issue 2 - July 2012 Featuring Emily Wiliamson Art is Sharp: Wayne White's "Big Lick Boom" Studio Visit: Gerry & Betsy Bannan High School S...

Profile for vianoke