Photographer and art educator Amanda Garvin facilitated two Morgantown Public Schools exhibits on view this month, one at Monongalia Art Center, and another at Arts Monongahela, both with receptions April 21, 6-8pm. She shares with Zackquill about her love for Morgantown and the diversity of the arts community, her favorite aspect of being an arts educator, the importance of this exhibit and more.

Z: How did you end up in West Virginia?

A: I was born and raised in and around the Northern Panhandle. I moved to Morgantown about 10 years ago and have deemed it home sweet home. I truly love this town and could not imagine living anywhere else.

Z: How did you come to be an artist? 



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A: Both my father and grandfather were artistic. My father painted cars, but not your standard paint jobs, custom airbrushing and the like. My grandfather was always posing me as a child to try out a new camera. I can remember being asked in middle school to fill out a career path. I selected Art Educator or Photographer and throughout the years I kept coming back to those two. I studied Graphic Fine Arts and Art Education at Fairmont State University and later earned my master’s degree in Technology. These components put together, sort of make me who I am, and mingling them is completely satisfying. Middle school me would be very proud.

Artist Amanda Garvin.

Z: How did this exhibition come about? Why is this important for the Morgantown community?

A: I love the fact that my tiny artists, at the age of 5 and up, can walk into a real art gallery and see their work professionally curated and displayed. There is no greater joy to being an Art Educator than seeing the pride in a student when they show their family the work that they created. It really is heartwarming. As the Monongalia County Art Facilitator, I am able to plan an art show that showcases highlights from every school in the county for students Kindergarten to twelfth grade. We utilize the MAC, Arts Mon and in conjunction with the coral educators families can visit the MET Theater immediately following to listen to the All County Choir performance. It a night to celebrate all the love and support that Monongalia County offers its aspiring artists.

Z: How do you think the environment is for the arts in Morgantown? How do you think it could improve?

A: I love the diversity of Morgantown. It offers a lot of unique art experiences on a regular basis. Growing up in a small, rural town in WV, I didn’t visit an art gallery until high school. I love that I can walk my dog through the WVU sculpture garden, or tour one of the many museums on any given day. As a creative small business owner I love that I can often find local groups to network and collaborate with on a regular basis. I would love to see more co-op centered artist spaces in Morgantown. A lot of artists need studio space to work in, but retail and rental space in town is insane. I know several small business owners who would like to see a co-op style studio space come to life.

 Z: What is your favorite thing about being an artist in Morgantown? 

A: My favorite thing about working in a creative field in Morgantown is that I get to live in a city I love and fulfill a creative need, all while sharing my love for the arts with young imaginative minds. Photography allows me to capture time, whether it be a big moment like a wedding or an intimate day at home with a family. I hope to inspire as many children as possible to see the arts as viable path for a rewarding career and encourage them to follow their passions.

Portrait photography by Amanda Garvin.

Z: What would people be surprised to know about you?

A: I am not sure if most would be surprised to know but I have been a vegetarian for 19 years and I love rescue dogs. I currently have two rescue doggies. I would love to take every pound puppy home with me if possible.

Sally Deskins is an artist, writer and curator. She currently serves as Exhibits & Programs Coordinator with West Virginia University Libraries and edits the blog Les Femmes Folles: Women in Art. Contact her at sallydeskins@yahoo.com.