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."
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.
Visit Sydney's website.
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.
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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."
L.Brandon McCullar was born in Tuscaloosa and studied Art at Montevallo, the University of Alabama, Complutense University, Madrid and the John Campbell Folk School for Black Smithing. He lived his early life as a self described “Gypsy”, traveling throughout Europe, Asia, and South America while studying. He’s shown in galleries in Alabama, Atlanta, Savannah, Paraguay, North Carolina, Madrid and Paris. He’s taught Art to both children and adults. He is a multimedia artist specializing in metal sculpture. Brandon has owned Southern Fried Metal (FB,
Instagram) a custom Art business for the last 6 years. He designs Art, furniture, jewelry,furniture and anything and everything for clients.
Brandon has always known he wanted to be an Artist. Some of his fondest childhood memories are of the time that he spent at his grandfather’s tiny workshop in Clanton,Al. He stated "I feel that as children our imaginations are limitless. We tend to loose this gift as we age. i want to use sculpture to share what I dreamed that I could create as a boy. I let the metal lead me as I shape it and that’s when the magic happens.”
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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.
Visit Scott's website.
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
Ashley Young was born in Mannheim, Germany, to her father, an Army officer, and her mother, a quilter. She traveled the world as a child and now calls Alabama home. She earned her MFA in Book Arts in 2019 and continues to be inspired by the world around her. She tends to use images from nature and photographic imagery in the creation of her artist books. She also makes custom journals, guestbooks and boxes.
She seeks to spread the appreciation of bookmaking by teaching workshops and attending art festivals.