Haywood Arts Appoints New Art and Gallery Manager

Local artist Lauren Medford was recently promoted to art and gallery manager at the Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) in downtown Waynesville.

A native of Haywood County, Medford holds an Associate of Applied Science in Advertising and Graphic Design from Southwestern Community College and a Master of Fine Arts from Western Carolina University.

Medford is a working artist. When describing her work, she said, “My media of choice are printmaking, collage and fiber sculpture. I work on themes like camp, fandom, fashion and diva sensibilities.”

Before becoming full-time at HCAC, Medford worked to expand the gallery’s programs, improve branding and increase their outreach. The Smoky Mountain News recently spoke with Medford to learn more about her story.

Smoky Mountain News: What is your first memory of creating a piece of art?

Lauren Medford: I remember being in art class at Junaluska Elementary School [in Waynesville] in first grade. Our task was to make a winter scene in soft pastel tones. The teacher included my work in the student art exhibition. My parents and I went to the exhibition. I remember how proud I was to see my art on a wall among other students’ works.

SMN: What about the style and “vibe” of your work?

LM: My work addresses the aesthetics of flamboyance, glamor and attitude to express the sensibility of ‘camp’ in popular culture. These concepts are explored through a selection of themes that highlight campiness in popular culture and everyday life. Recurring themes in my work include camp, colour, excess, opulence and mock-glamour.

Recent work by Lauren Medford. (File Photo)

SMN: Tell us about your new permanent role with the Arts Council of Haywood County.

LM: I started working at HCAC in November 2020 on a part-time basis as a gallery clerk. Once [HCAC Executive Director] Morgan Berrill became our new director in the summer of 2021, she moved me into the marketing and graphic design position. I was eager to create a new brand for HCAC and its new programs and events. I am also the Artist Member Program Coordinator.

At the end of 2022, our volunteer gallery coordinator, Pamela Tiffany, announced that she was ready to take a step back and spend more time with family. So I was promoted to HCAC’s first ever Art and Gallery Manager.

I operate Haywood Handmade Gallery at 86 North Main Street in Waynesville. This includes obtaining new retail and exhibit inventory, retail placement, and working with our gallery volunteers and artist members. I still create all of our promotional materials, oversee our social media platforms, website and coordinate artist memberships. Every day is different and I really love it that way.

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SMN: What would you tell people about HCAC that they may not already know?

LM: We offer many opportunities to our artist members. HCAC also has many programs and events for the community at large from art workshops to the annual Smoky Mountains Bluegrass Festival. For more information about our artist membership opportunities and the programs and events we offer, visit HCAC online.

SMN: What is one (or two or three) pieces of advice you would give other female artists?

LM: Always listen to your gut, not only in your art but in life. Listen to what people say, but choose who you listen to. Never let anyone beat you – always be the hardest worker in the room.

Do you want to go?

To learn more about upcoming Haywood County Arts Council events, exhibitions and showcases, click haywoodarts.org. For more information on Lauren Medford and Showgirl Press, click on facebook.com/showgirlpress or visit her Instagram (@showgirlpress).

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