kentuck's studio artist program
On any given day in Kentuck’s Courtyard of Wonders you can watch a ceramic bowl emerge from a lump of clay, a folk artist at work, or a weathervane grow from hammered metal in our blacksmith’s forge.
Kentuck Art Center rents studio space to local, full‑time artists for below market value to help them make a living doing what they love. Kentuck’s Studio Artist Program fulfills all facets of our mission statement: perpetuate the arts, engage the community, and empower the artist.
I believe my art performs best when it subtly blends many styles, influences, and media into something unique for that moment. A lot of my work uses themes of nature and historical popular culture references. The mediums I have been using most are acrylics, paint markers, and spray paint. I also enjoy making sculpture. I usually make those out of sculpey or foam and sometimes adhere them to found objects. My main process starts by writing down ideas throughout the day and later revising them into drawings. Depending on the idea in the drawing, I then choose a medium to start working with. When it all goes well, I finish with a fully realized illustration, painting, or sculpture.
Founding Member of Open Letter Press
I operate a small-edition letterpress shop and bindery. I work with themes of cause and effecr and see to reconnect readers with the exploratory spirit of youth. In addition, I have a BFA in Graphic Design from Auburn University, an MFA in Book Arts from The University of Alabama, and over 9 years of cumulative professional experience working in various creative environments and industries. Through the guidance of the Book Arts MFA program and its' faculty, I have extensive letterpress experience and recently purchased my first press (a Vandercook Proof Press number 3). My hand-skills have grown immensly as has my passion for well-crafted printed matter in traditional and non-traditional formats.
col. lee busby, ret.
Busby is a native Tuscaloosan and University of Alabama graduate. He had a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps, was Vice Chief of Staff to General John F Kelly, and ran as a write-in candidate during Alabama's senate election in 2017. Busby says, "Most of my professional life was spent as a Marine Infantry Officer. Sculpture and ceramics came to me late; only in the past five years or so. Much of my portrait sculpture has been the creation of bronze memorial busts of servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Steve Davis has made objects most of his life and in the process has explored a range of media. For many years, he has worked in metals and employs a wide variety of ancient and contemporary techniques using the direct metal process. He follows in the shadows of artists Houben, Lane, Nutt, and Weber and is extremely grateful for their encouragement. Although an artistic generalist, he may be known for stylized interpretations of plant and animal forms. In his works, he creates pieces from the sublime to the ridiculous, considers himself to be a creative problem solver, and has a penchant for logistical nightmares. Today, in addition to artistic works, Steve also accepts commissions.
Sydney Gruber is a contemporary painter and mixed media creative. Sydney enjoys her role in what she sees as a modern day art renaissance and specializes in creating sublime meditation paintings beckoning motion and energy. Art is an experience, and Sydney encourages reaction from the onlooker—to stretch minds and encourage emotion through entrancing hues. As a devoted learner and student of life, she explores the relationship of releasing the internal into the external as well as the process of finding and losing oneself. When she is not creating in her Alabama studio, Sydney can be found traveling in the art festival circuit, developing new representation, or seeking collaborations with her community or other creatives.
Working with the Tuscaloosa County and City school systems, Sydney is as an ambassador for the future of the arts and frequently leads day-programs designed to empower young artists through the Artists in the Schools program. Continuing her hands-on learning endeavors, she currently instructs "Imagination & Enrichment" Kids' Camps—a program she designed to expand art education and develop self-expression through imagination.
Kerry Kennedy’s first love is pottery and sculptural ceramics. She has thrown pottery for over ten years. As a student, Kennedy was deeply interested in sculptural works that fused thrown forms with organic aesthetics. These ideas are always influencing even the most functional shapes of mugs and bowls. Her passion for creative anachronism of the rennaisance period takes her to several festivals throughout the nation each year.
Born to a woodworking father and folk painting mother I spent many weekends as a child at arts and craft shows around Alabama. Despite my early exposure to the world of working artists I never thought I was capable of creating art. In fact, I didn’t really pick up a paintbrush until my 30’s. Fortunately, a fire was lit, an opportunity to have a significant impact on my community and culture was realized, and it felt as though I’d found my voice and purpose. Unbeknownst to me, I’d also developed a cataract in my left eye as the result of a childhood accident. The undiagnosed cataract inhibited my vision, impairing my depth perception and inadvertently impacted my use of color and lines; strongly affecting my style. With artistic influences that run the gamut from working peers to traditional folk arts to pop and surrealism masters, my work is a marriage of genres incorporating my love for books, music, humor, and beauty. Using an array of salvaged substrates I produce a wide ranging body of work that includes paintings, mixed media, assemblage, and sculpture often addressing social and cultural issues with a voice that attempts to speak truth to power and promote equality while representing a new generation of progressive Southern artists and idealists.
Founding Member of Open Letter Press
Amy LeePard is a book artist and letterpress printer who creates one-of-a-kind and limited edition handmade books and prints. Amy received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Book Arts from The University of Alabama in 2016. Her work incorporates printing processes that span the history of print technology from traditional printmaking to experimental processes for letterpress printing to modern giclée printing. As a hand bookbinder and papermaker, Amy has a special interest in historic book structures and paper sculpture. With a background in architecture and photography, Amy is influenced by geometric patterns, formal design, and the serendipity found in the combination of mechanical and hand processes. Painting, drawing, experimental mark-making, and alternative processes for photography all find their way into her book works. As a curator, Amy served the National Guild of Book Workers as Exhibitions Chair from 2010 – 2016, planning and executing two biennial national traveling juried exhibitions, Horizon (2012 – 2014) and Vessel (2015 – 2017), which traveled to over ten venues across the United States. Amy’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. Her work can be found in both private and public collections such as The Library of Congress, the Tutt Special Collections Library, and the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery.
Daniel Livingston has been working with clay for a large portion of his life and states, “I have always been fascinated by the potter’s wheel. There was just something about it that drew me in when I was younger, and this was years before I even touched one.” In the early 1970s, Livingston enrolled in art school, eventually earning a Bachelor and Masters of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Alabama.
Daniel is a retired ceramics professor from The University of Alabama and has been a Kentuck Demonstrating Artist since 1992. Livingston exhibits his work at many other galleries throughout the Southeast and is known fondly as "the guru of raku."
Scott is an accomplished folk artist who was raised in Fayette, Alabama. He fondly recollects times during his childhood when he observed folk artist Jimmy Lee Sudduth create his now-famous mud paintings. Scott is a graduate of Samford University (B.A.), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Luther Rice Seminary (D.Min). Scott is an ordained minister who lives in Nothport, Alabama. He has exhibited in Kentuck's Hotel Indigo Gallery and the Teer Gallery and has been a Kentuck Artist in the Schools for three years. He attends over 20 festivals every calendar year. He is a minister, and author of Reasonable Doubt — A Case for LGBTQ Inclusion in the Institutions of Marriage and Church. For more information, click here.
Nöelle Mercurio, born in Miami, Florida and raised in Tuscaloosa Alabama, features a myriad of abstract mixed media art. Her style is unique and her range is broad.
Nöelle studied fine art, graphic design, photography and advertising at the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York City. After moving back to Tuscaloosa in 1999, Nöelle was a small business owner, which transferred her creativity to more of a marketing role. In 2014, Nöelle closed her business to have a more flexible schedule with her busy family. It was at this time that Noelle began honing her skills as a fine artist and painter.
The majority of her creations are inspired by music, imagination, love of trying something new, and most importantly, her faith. Each piece that Nöelle creates is original and will not be recreated “en masse”. Her use of color, texture, and medium give each piece a tremendous depth, which allows the viewer a different experience every time he/she views it. Whether it is acrylic, oil, or watercolor, Nöelle’s one of a kind pieces will bring life and energy to any space.
Founding Member of Open Letter Press
bio coming soon