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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 sculpture 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.

Interested in being a Kentuck Studio Artist?

Click here to see available studio space.

studio artists

neel alexander

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.

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alana baldwin

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.

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kerry kennedy

Kerry Kennedy’s first love is pottery and sculptural ceramics. She has thrown pottery for over fifteen 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 renaissance period takes her to several festivals throughout the nation each year.

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amy leepard

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.

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scott mcqueen

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.

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virginia shirley

A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Virginia graduated high school after serving as a model for on-going adult painting classes taught by her high school art teacher and participating in a summer-long program in the arts sponsored by The Alabama Council on the Arts.


Entering the University of Alabama initially as an art major, Virginia was a member of the New College division there and was graduated with a major in Southern Culture and Folklife Studies.  She became Program Officer of the Alabama Humanities Foundation and travelled the state working with local cultural and community groups, libraries, city and county administrators, colleges and universities to fund, plan and produce local cultural events.  Later she took on responsibilities of the Community Education program of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, coordinating community tours and events, art, architecture and history exhibitions and outreach through school programs, as well as serving on the Birmingham Mayor’s community board for cultural outreach.


Upon moving to Mississippi in early 1989, Virginia worked with a local photographer on a publication project for the ArtsAlliance of Jackson & Hinds County, the area arts council, now known as the Greater Jackson Arts Council.  Following completion of this project, she took the position of Local Arts Program Director with the Mississippi Arts Council (MAC), travelling the state to work with local arts councils to improve their organizations and local activities.  During this time Virginia also worked closely with MAC board members to increase their involvement and ensure their participation in arts programming throughout Mississippi.


After several years in service with MAC, Ms. Shirley was selected to serve as Executive Director of the ArtsAlliance of Jackson & Hinds County. In this role she gave speeches to the general public and community groups, participated on the Mayor’s community advisory board, and worked directly with the Southern Arts Federation, the National Endowment for the Arts, corporations and sponsors, as well as board members and staff to ensure funding for the organization.  Ms. Shirley also worked to develop and oversee ArtsAlliance programs including an annual three-day downtown arts and music festival with crowds approaching 25,000 participants daily, gallery exhibitions, school programs, an area arts grants program with funds approximating $100,000 annually, a calendar for the general arts community and resources for local arts groups both large and small. 


Around 1999, Virginia took her creative talents into the studio full time.  Working in various arts media, she won awards for her work in photography and clay. She had years of experience in painting in watercolor and acrylics, but after studying plein air painting at the Taos Art School Virginia settled into a full-time focus on painting exclusively in oils. Visit Virginia's website for more details.

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