Faculty Members

Allison Parker

Allison Parker

Faculty Member

Allison Parker was in her last semester of art school at Savannah College of Art and Design and decided that she loved realistic painting, and switched majors. She was supporting herself waitressing and on a scholarship that did not cover the additional classes. She said she realized art school is not just a place to learn, but also a great place to find a community of creatives who will help. Even in New York City she found that other artists are very giving and helpful with opportunities and helping each other succeed. “I asked around, and someone I knew in the field of motion graphics/animation passed my name around. A few months later unexpectedly, a SCAD graduate in New York City wrote to me and asked if I could provide realistic historical illustrations for a public TV documentary about the city.”

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Parker says the group was looking for a student with inexpensive rates. She says her rates might have been low, but the pay of $350 per image was enough for her to finish school. She illustrated seven episodes for them with five to ten paintings per episode, using real paintings, a lot of art history references, and a digital tablet. She had to do a lot of back-and forth editing with the art directors to get the scenes right for the show. Sometimes this meant staying up all night for very tight deadlines. The television show staff. worked in the City Hall building on the 32nd floor, overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge and Chinatown. She was invited to attend the NYC Emmy awards, and they were surprised to win an Emmy for Graphics. This allowed her to realize, “I’d always been shy, and afraid to ask for help. But I would not have won an Emmy Award for Design if I hadn’t gotten past my shyness, and let the people in my network know that I was looking for work.

She said the experience taught her not be shy, and to ask her network and friends for help, and get my name out there even if you didn’t feel confident, yet, about my work. She also recommends to get a good website, and say yes to everything in the beginning even if you don’t think you have the perfect skill set. Just try and adapt so you can learn new ways to use your art.

Parker also notes the most important thing. “Be open and friendly to other artists. Not competitive. Be willing to help them because they will also help you. A lot of artists close themselves off because they are insecure about their work or afraid of their ideas getting ‘stolen.’ Don’t think this way or you will never move forward!”

Her biggest motivation is to bring the training she received in New York City back to the South and smaller towns, so people have the opportunity to learn those skills. She notes that most academic art training is concentrated in large cities, and she wants to bring the opportunity to learn traditional skills to other places. She has much to share. In addition to receiving her B.F.A. in painting and illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, she studied classical drawing and painting in New York City at the Grand Central Atelier; the Art Students League; and Chelsea Classical Studio. She also worked as an illustrator and instructor at Chelsea for nine years before moving to the Tri-Cities. She currently teaches drawing and painting at the McKinney Center, the Kingsport Art Guild, and the Root Studio School. She is a recipient of the Hudson River Fellowship, the Joseph Hartley Memorial Award for oil painting, and the Anders Larsson Toich Foundation Classical Scholarship. Allison’s work is online at: www.allisonparker.net .

Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins

Faculty Member

Beverly Thomas Jenkins was born and raised in Texas, and moved to East Tennessee in 1980. She grew up in a family that engulfed her in the world of art at a very early age. Her father, an artist for over sixty-five years, encourage Jenkin’s creative ventures throughout her life. Everything she has done has had an artistic flair to it.

Many know Jenkins and her husband, Herman, as the founders of Jonesborough’s “Main Street Café”, which has been a favorite eatery in downtown Jonesborough for over thirty years. While there, Jenkin’s artistic side shone through, from the creative menu choices to the fresh, beautiful ingredients that made the food a beautiful presentation.

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Eventually, her artistic nature would lead her to another art form. “In 2007, I discovered my passion for mosaic art. When I first began – I just couldn’t stop, I love creating mosaic art so much, it is my heart and my passion!”

While she began creating mosaic work in 2007, she recalls her original passion for the form began in 1963, when her parents created a 7×4 foot mosaic table, which became their dining room table. “Here was this big, beautiful piece of art, and it function as the thing we ate our food from. Looking back, I realize, I like making art that you can use, just like my father and mother did.”

Jenkins especially likes to use found objects, bringing new use to pieces that have perhaps lost their original use. She has created works from broken heirloom dishes and cups. She also works with Venetian & Mexican Smalti, stone, marble, pottery, metals, found objects, art glass, and more.

Perhaps her love for Venetian style mosaics was influenced by her love of travel. Jenkins and her husband, Herman, have taken numerous trips to all parts of the globe, and these travels further inform Jenkins’ work.

Her talent and passion has led to numerous commissions. Her work is found in many private residences around the world, and is in several public collections, including the Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as several hotels in California.

Jenkins recently studied under Italian mosaic artist, Giulio Menossi, and recently was asked to teach a mosaic workshop, herself, in Europe.

She is a member of Tennessee Craft, SAMA, CMA, BAMA, and the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville, Tennessee.

Her new love and passion is her grandson, Henry. The pair of them can be seen taking leisurely strolls in Downtown Jonesborough.

Brett McCluskey

Brett McCluskey

Faculty Member

Brett McCluskey has been making music since he can remember. The child of musicians, he first began learning piano at six years on, and continuing on to learn drums. By the age of fourteen, he was already playing professionally in a popular dance band in the San Bernardino and Los Angeles area.

McCluskey took a short time off from music, as he served a mission in Japan, and then spent time teaching English to Japanese children at a school in Osaka, Japan. While there, he became fluent in the Japanese language, and developed a deep appreciation for the culture.

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Upon returning to the United States, McCluskey received his BA in Music Education from California State University San Bernardino. Brett served as district choral accompanist for the Rialto Unified School District and the San Bernardino School District, working with elementary, middle school and high school students, from 1997 to 2008. During this time, he also served as the pianist for the Cal State Jazz Ensemble.

McCluskey located to Jonesborough in 2013, and has since become very involved in the music landscape of the region. He has worked as accompanist and music director with the Jonesborough Repertory Theater and Johnson City Community Theater, serves as a community mentor with the Tusculum College Jazz Band, and plays with the Aaron Jaxon Band, Time Further Out, and for other musical events.

Each spring semester, the hallways of the McKinney Center resound with the sound of the Bucket Drumming class, a popular course among youth and adults taught by McCluskey. “I wanted to make the class open for 5th grade through adults, because I found a lot of parents or grandparents want to take the class with their kids, and it’s something they can do together here and at home.” Says Brett McCluskey, who teaches the twelve-week course, and continues, “Drumming is such a great group activity. It demands teamwork and cohesiveness, it increases your focus because you have to listen to what is going on around you, it energizes everyone, and in this class, everyone gets a chance to make their own pattern, and to respond to the patterns the others are creating. Which is really the key to communicating.”

In addition to this work,McCLuskey also composed and directed music for the play I Am Home, and also serves as accompanist and music director for the Yarn Exchange Radio Show.

Donna Bird

Donna Bird

Faculty Member

I discovered I was an artist during elementary school. I was in about the third grade in Olive Branch, Mississippi, where I grew up. I used to sit and draw things around my house. I was fascinated with the details of organic things. I continued drawing. My middle school art teacher was very encouraging to me and taught me how to improve my drawing skills. My parents also encouraged my artistic endeavors and I continued to draw and paint through high school. I eventually chose to pursue Bachelors Degree in Fine Art at Delta State University and became a working graphic designer for ten years.

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I now reside in Johnson City, Tennessee. I’ve had the opportunity to have my work shown in several art exhibitions locally, including Jonesborough’s Juried Art Exhibition and the East Tennessee Foundation’s Women’s Fund Art Show.

While I was in school, I found inspiration by studying great masters such as Edgar Degas, Anders Zorn, John Singer Sargent, and Joaquin Sorolla. Studying the techniques of others helped me develop my own craft. By observing the various techniques, I was ably to apply what I learned to my own style and interpretation.

Everyone is creative. I think most people have the ability to be artistic. Studying art, and art education is like studying any skill or craft. The education moves one from being artistic to being an artist.

I love working with students, and helping them become artists. Helping them learn the skills they need to paint and draw on their own is a great feeling. I know they are learning something they can take with them, and move forward with and grow.

We teach life-long lessons in these classes, and I love to watch the progression of my students. I can imagine the joy they feel when they become stronger and more proficient in creating their art work, because I feel the same way. I encourage them to continue painting and drawing every week, not just because it is part of their class, but because the more they do, the better they get, and the more they grow. Even more than that- I think because they will get joy out of it.

I paint every day and I’m am grumpy when I don’t get to do that. I explore still life on a regular basis but I love portrait and figure painting most of all. I love spending time getting to know someone and bringing it out on canvas. People are an endless source of fascination for me.

I would say that a mountain top moment for me is when someone really connects with my work. Putting a piece of artwork out into the public is a risk and when it speaks personally to someone it is the greatest feeling in the world. I know I’ve connected with someone, and they feel connected to me, too.

I believe art is an important way of creating connections that are meaningful. It is an important tool for communication. I learned that in graphic design, but it applies to so many other things, as well.

Emily Matney

Emily Matney

Faculty Member

Emily Matney is a new dance instructor at the McKinney Center, but her artistry has been in the making for several years.

Though Emily had danced earlier in her childhood, it was when she began taking lessons at ETSU when she realized her true artistry in the form. Inspired by the dance instructors Cara Harker and Jen Kintner at ETSU, Emily was introduced to new dance styles and ideas. Emily further reached her goals as a dancer, after placing 2nd in competition, and attributes much of her success to her own tenacity as well as the guidance and encouragement she received from her instructors.

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Emily explains her true growth as a dancer came at this point. “They pushed for creativity, and made me aware of advancement opportunities.” This experience helped shape Emily, and taking these lessons from her own instructors, she looks forward to helping her own students to strive for excellence, and to incorporate their own creativity in their dances.

Emily will be bringing her creativity and expertise to the McKinney Center, teaching ballroom dancing for teens and adults.

Ginny Wall

Ginny Wall

Faculty Member

Ginny Wall is an accomplished artist and teacher. She wants to inspire her students the way she was inspired when she was younger. She remembers one teacher in particular who helped her on her journey.

“His name was Mr. McGowan, he was my most special art teacher. It was the end of the school year and all the teachers were saying goodbye to their students. Mr. McGowan walked up to me and said, ‘I’m really not supposed to do this, but I want you to have this because I want you to keep painting.’ It was this little cheap, ninety-nine cent blue tin box of paints.”

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She said she was so motivated and inspired by him just encouraging her. “I wish I could go back and say, ‘you don’t know what that meant to me.’” To Wall, the simple blue tin box is a reminder of encouragement and inspiration.

Wall has taken that story from her childhood and strives to inspire her students in the same way. “There are those people, all along your whole life. Those little bright people, they might not even know they are encouraging you that much. But, as a teacher, we want to do that to our students.”

While Wall talks about her beginnings with art, she continues, “I think it was a God given gift. I really didn’t know that much about watercolor except I was really drawn to it and I really liked it. And of all the mediums, that was the medium that just really attracted me because it’s more spontaneous. It doesn’t have to be transparent, but for the most part it is a transparent medium. If you make a mistake you don’t get to paint over the top of it.”

Wall has painted the cover of books and magazines, she was the president of the Santa Rosa Art Association and has spent over twenty years taking part in fine art shows and exhibits. But that’s not all painting is about for Wall. “It’s not so much mastering the technique, it’s more sharing and teaching that I enjoy the most. I have gotten to a level where I understand the medium so well that I can share it with other people. And then they can have their own ah-ha moments!”

Wall not only helps her student’s artistic abilities grow, she also strives to be a light to them. “People go through difficult times,” Wall explains. “So, teaching is never just about teaching a subject. You’re always finding out about people and their trials. If they’re doing something that they love to do, it’s helping them somehow.

One lesson Wall teaches is to embrace change because through it you can grow as an artist and a person. “One thing I wanted to say about changing is that seasons change in life, you know?” And so, it’s a good thing to be able to just say, ‘I’m going with this, it’s okay’ and give yourself permission to change. That idea of allowing yourself to change is important. And when you feel the winds of change blowing, you wait until you know where they’re blowing. This journey of art has been a lot of changes.”

Heidi Ehle

Heidi Ehle

Faculty Member

A guitarist, flutist and dancer from an early age, Heidi settled in Seattle, Washington after attending Bennington College and Cornish Institute of the Arts to receive her Bachelors of Music in flute performance. She trained in the Suzuki Method of teaching young children and was faculty and department head at the Suzuki Institute of Seattle for 13 years, as well as maintaining a thriving independent flute studio in Seattle for 25 years.

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A guitarist, flutist and dancer from an early age, I settled in Seattle, Washington after attending Bennington College and Cornish Institute of the Arts to receive my Bachelors of Music in flute performance.

I trained in the Suzuki Method of teaching young children and was faculty and department head at the Suzuki Institute of Seattle for 13 years, as well as maintaining a thriving independent flute studio in Seattle for 25 years.

Since retiring in 2018 from my position as Assistant Director at ETSU’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, I have returned to more teaching and playing music, two activities I truly loves.

My eclectic, imaginative, and playful teaching approach bring a sense of fun to the process of acquiring skills and learning to play expressively. I welcome students of any level and age, from beginner to professional, and age 8 to 80.

For me, moving, playing, and creating is important at all ages. I started dancing seriously at age 6. I think at that point I decided that I was most engaged and felt the most sense of belonging, and most alive – when working on creative projects- either alone or with others. When I started playing guitar and flute, and played in a rock band in high school, I bonded with the people I worked with musically and in dance in a way that opened me up emotionally and connected me to people in an exciting way. I find this to still be true, and I encourage this kind of interaction in my classes. I had a lot of good instructors in the past to help me realize this connection.

My first dance teacher, Atti Bermudez, influenced me more than any other individual in my life to this point. Her endlessly joyful attitude, ability to create a working culture where everyone felt encouraged and challenged, and her amazing ability to create works of true artistic merit with whatever resources she had to work with – are a guiding force to me to this day. At a young age she made me feel that what I had to offer the world was precious and special, and she taught me what it means to be disciplined enough to bring ideas to full fruition.

Today, I continue to be inspired by many people. Young people- with their ability to plunge forward into the unknown and unfold in such unexpected and beautiful ways, and their capacity for unconditional love is inspirational.  Mozart – with his ability to be clear, free, and inventive within a structured form, and still sparkle with timeless beauty…….my husband Charles – whose kindness and endless depth as an artist never cease to amaze me.

I use this inspiration to continue to create. In my free time, the things I like to do are playing music; writing poetry; choreographing; doing yoga; reading; gardening; talking to and snuggling my kitty; thinking about, cooking, and eating fresh delicious food.

I also continue to strive toward my greatest goals as an artist. In the past: When I heard a recording of flute playing and decided that I had to learn to play so that I could make that divine sound. And then did, that was a mountain top moment for me.

This year, I experienced another mountain top moment- one I wasn’t sure I would summit. I choreographed two 4-minute dances for two professional dancers after having foot surgery. I had to do all the choreography while lying down and not being able to move. What I learned is – don’t underestimate your imagination. I was able to achieve this goal- lying down in body, but dancing in my mind.

Janet Browning

Janet Browning

Faculty Member

From an early age, Janet Browning knew she wanted to pursue art as a career. “I was always encouraged by my family. I remember my first ‘portraits’. They would be of my family around the Thanksgiving table when I was four years old. My family made a big deal of them. It was so encouraging, so I continued to take art throughout grade school.”

Browning, who teaches several classes at the McKinney Center, including charcoal portraits and beading, did not stop her pursuit of perfecting her art in grade school. In high school, she had an art teacher, Paul Rupert, who realized Janet’s talent. He allowed her to work separately from the rest of the art class, introducing her to more complicated medias and methods. “When I saw the effort he was making to help me become a better artist, it led me to pursue the arts as a living.”

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In college, Browning majored in figure drawing as well as oil painting, and received her degree in Art and Education from East Tennessee State University. She also spent time at the Art Students League in New York City.

After her studies, she taught art in the public school system for seven years, before founding ArtSmart Inc., which is an after-school art enrichment program that later became KidSmart. This program operated in eight states and employed over one hundred teaching artists. “This program was able to reach so many more students than I would have ever been able to reach in just one school. The program allowed me to share my love and appreciation of art to a much wider group of people.” Browning says of her impactful program.

Browning also owns and operates Hands Around the World, a store on Jonesborough’s historic Main Street that sells art from around the world that Browning purchases during several trips each year.

“My other love is travel, where I get to discover more about the cultures of the world, especially traditional ones.” She says she has always been interested in people- their culture, their lives, their faces- and Hands Around the World helps her share the art from these cultures with people in this community.

“The best is when I get to mix both my love of travel and my love of art.”

Jess Parks

Jess Parks

Faculty Member

Since moving to Jonesborough, Jess Parks has begun to make a name for herself in local and regional art shows. In addition to being a superb potter, she is becoming known for developing her own glazes. These distinctive glazes and her unique forms have a character all their own. They are recognized immediately as a “Jess Parks” piece, even though those pieces are always changing as she explores new colors, forms, and surface decorations.

She explains that because of her willingness to experiment with forms, styles and glazes, that no one else has the colors she have, because she is only one who makes them, stating about her work “I never get bored. I’m always developing new techniques.”

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These techniques have caught the eyes of prestigious gallery owners. Her work is now in places such as the prestigious New Morning Gallery at Biltmore Village in Asheville.

Now that she has made a name for herself, she is devoting time to pass her knowledge on to others wanting to learn the skill, and share in the excitement of creating art. She shares this knowledge in classes that she teaches at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough.

Parks’ philosophy on teaching the craft is, “I like to develop my own methods and teach that, and also let students know how many ways there is to make something. I want them to learn from me, and I want them to learn from others, as well, just like I did. It’s important to expose yourself to different potters, because we all do things differently. I encourage my students to learn what they can from each one, and then then develop their own style and method.”

Parks also says she wants to help get everyone out of the box, and to help them have as much fun with the tactile experience as she does.

She also believes in helping others develop their skills so they can become more empowered, and says, “I feel like sometimes you don’t fit in with different groups, but you can always come to my class, there are no grades, and you leave with something you didn’t know you could do, and that’s empowering. Even if your pot blows up in the kiln, I feel like we all get something out of it.”

Parks says that in her class, there are no failures, and believes, “I am not afraid to fail, it doesn’t scare me- it inspires me, and even if it blows up in the kiln, I know I’ll have gotten something out of it to inspire the next big idea.”

Jonathan Edens

Jonathan Edens

Faculty Member

Jonathan Edens is an accomplished musician who serves as a community member and mentor with the Tusculum College Jazz Band, and is a native of Greenville, Tennessee. He comes from a family with a long history in the area.

“Everyone in my family is known for something.” He acknowledges, and talks about his grandfather, Marion C. Edens, who was at different points the head football coach, basketball coach, athletic director, and director of admissions for Tusculum College.

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He goes on to share about his grandmother, who was a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. A weaver and a painter, she had a piece of linsey-woolsy exhibited in The Smithsonian. His mother learned the craft as well, and is also a weaver and a member of the Guild.

“They were artists, but didn’t call themselves that. They went about their lives creating. I feel like I am the same way. When I found music, I realized that’s I would create.”

While he focuses on his music and carves out his own field of expertise and experience, Edens is also careful to learn and carry on the crafts of those who came before him.

“Tradition is important to me. I think it is an important responsibility to carry on tradition. My mom knows how to weave. I’m trying to get her to give me some lessons on weaving. I think we each have a skill, and with that an opportunity to share that knowledge with someone else. I think that’s why I finally decided to start teaching. What is meant to do with all of this knowledge one has accrued if not to pass it on?”

Edens likes to challenge himself to learn new things, and to also learn new ways of doing what he is good at. “As a guitarist, I really struggled with jazz. I realized that I could become proficient at the art form of guitar, if I could learn and master Autumn Leaves. It took time, but I mastered it.”

He explains that while he played with ease other forms on the guitar, he found his challenge in jazz. “Jazz is a horn player’s idiom, or piano player’s, but with guitar, the pedagogy is the least developed. The placement in context with other instruments is not as well established- which I think is one reason guitar took off with other forms of music, like bluegrass, country, and rock. It didn’t have to compete with other instruments.”

He says that in struggling and learning that song, he also became more proficient at patience and determination, and that these skills are important in creating art. He wants to instill this in his students, along with learning the music.

“Whether you are a beginner learning something new, or a proficient player, learning a new way of doing something, and getting past that learning curve opens up those new worlds. Discovering the excitement of that is something I love to teach.”

Jules Corriere

Jules Corriere

Full-time Staff and Faculty Member

Jules Corriere is a playwright, a community leader and the Outreach Programming Director at the McKinney Center. “I’ve always written. Softball and sports were something I did, but writing was what I was. Writing was as much of me as my eyes, my ears, my lungs.”

If you were to ask Corriere who had deeply molded her life, she would say her dear friend, Jo Carson. Carson taught Corriere a forever lesson about deep listening and letting go. That’s a story Corriere carried throughout her life.

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“I had finally written my fist play that was going to be produced.” Says Corriere. “Joe and I sat on her porch while I read the script to her. When I finished she smiled and said ‘I want you to find your favorite scene. I want you to read it like you want it read and like your dream performance would be.’ I knew exactly the scene; it was a monolog. I pulled it out and I read it— and oh, I read it good too. Joe ripped that page out, threw it away and folded the script up and handed it back to me. She said, ‘Now your play is done.’”

She explains that in that moment, “I got it, right then!” That attachment and ego didn’t have a place in the work that she was about to enter into. She really needed to be ready to listen to the community, but also needed to be brave enough to write difficult stories.

Enduring difficult and trying times is an age-old part of life. And Corriere is certainly no stranger to that; when she was just a young mom Corriere was diagnosed with cancer. And it’s then that the playwright finally grasped the true meaning and value of a community. “I didn’t even tell my parents, I don’t know why. I can tell people now, but not in the midst of going through it I couldn’t— maybe I didn’t want to give it power through speaking those words. Maybe I didn’t want to claim it. No one around me had it and I wasn’t going to burden other people with it. I was going to beat it. When I got through to the other side, I finally claimed it and said ‘This is what I’ve been going through and this is what I have.’”

This trial provided growth for Corriere and revealed to her why humans aren’t solo creatures. “I see my illness and coming out of it as shifting from one paradigm to another, almost like a rite of passage, realizing that we are part of a larger community for a reason. To help each other through our human existence. We have each other to do that. I started doing playwright work at the same time I got cancer, and it helped me to be more dedicated to help heal communities and helping communities listen to their hard stories which can also be seen as illnesses. I realized through my illness and my work, we can handle anything, together, if we share honestly, and listen deeply to each other.”

Reflecting this, Jules recently began working on the Jonesborough Story Initiative program, in which she is training community members in story collecting, writing, and in the adaptation of local stories for various artistic expressions- including plays, books, videos, photographic exhibits, and more. She believes in the power of local stories and personal narratives, and the healing effect it has on individuals and communities.

Kara Bledsoe

Kara Bledsoe

Faculty Member

“Art has always been a part of my world,” Kara Bledsoe says. An artist, and mother to daughter, Rose, Bledsoe’s passion for art and care for children spills out into the classroom as she teaches pottery and wheel classes for youth at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough.

“As a child, my mother and father both made crafts and did local crafts sales, especially wood crafts. I was always around that, and I’d make things alongside them to take to the crafts sales also.” She describes how as still a toddler, her parents would allow her to help with base coat painting, as well as helping to set up and tear down the shows, giving her real view to a working artist’s life.

She grew up seeing a value in creating things. Her mother sewed a lot of her clothes and made their Halloween costumes. She remembers, “That was a privilege I had in my upbringing. I was exposed at a young age to the creation process.”

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Some of this process changed as she grew older. She tells of a high school art teacher that was highly critical of student’s work, and how she shrank as a creative artist under such scrutiny at a young age. “I didn’t thrive under that kind of pressure. There is a school of thought about teaching the realities of the harshness of life a person faces as a working artist. But I think first, there needs to be a foundation where a student can feel secure about what they are learning and what they are doing.”

Bledsoe stepped away from doing art in high school, because of those critical pressures. She enrolled in environmental studies in college. The school offered an open studio, where a student could buy a bag of clay and just work on a wheel. In a short time, Bledsoe found her way back to creating art projects. As she helped others in the studio find their vision, it became clear that her path in life was to become an art teacher.

“I teach pottery wheel and hand-building. But to me, the most important thing I teach is confidence building, and allowing the students to get the confidence they need to create something they have in their mind.”

Bledsoe believes that especially in younger years, children need to get the sense of self-satisfaction from completing a project and fulfilling the vision that started in their heads, and being able to follow through and make a finished work.

“Starting from scratch like that, children get a sense of not only completing the project, but they get to see how sometimes an idea can change, in order to make an even better piece. That’s an important element of learning, not just in art, but in life.”

Bledsoe, who teaches pottery to youth at the McKinney Center, earned her BFA with a concentration in ceramics from East Tennessee State University, and spent several years teaching the after-school art program through the Johnson City Arts Corps. She has had a solo art exhibit with the Johnson City Area Arts Council, as well as several group art exhibits throughout the region. She was also a member of TACA.

“I’d say my favorite thing about the work I do is that contagious moment when I feel kids getting excited about their project, and then at the end of class, everyone has their object they created. There is such a sense of joy and satisfaction, and that is where I get my satisfaction in life, too.”

Karen Hitchcock

Karen Hitchcock

Faculty Member

The rhythmic ping of a shard of glass ever so delicately placed on a swirl of green and blue that will soon be fired anywhere between 1,099 °F to 1,501 °F ending with a result of a fluted vase, a 4-piece plate, or a coaster sure to complement any coffee table. This is how Karen Hitchcock, a seasoned glass fusion artist and McKinney Center teacher, spends many of her days.

Hitchcock comes from a long line of artists. She grew up in New York with parents who worked at the Corning Glass Center, and a sister who was an accomplished potter. A young Hitchcock reminisces on visiting the Corning Glass Center for school trips, recalling that as the instant when her love for art first blossomed.

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Hitchcock once owned her own business as a custom picture framer until her husband bought her a small kiln. She then sold her business and got into creating art glass.

When Hitchcock is asked to dot the moment in the timeline of her life when she decided glass fusion was her true passion she would say, “When I began teaching at Rochester Arc and Flame.” Those students and experiences provided her with life-lasting inspiration that delivers her daily motivation.

One of the things that drew Hitchcock to Tennessee would be the lower cost of living and one of the cleanest lakes in the world, Watauga Lake. However, one of the things that keeps her in Tennessee is the McKinney Center in Jonesborough. Hitchcock’s first experience with the McKinney Center demonstrated the friendly and welcoming nature that Jonesborough is filled with. Hitchcock happened upon the Art Glass gallery on Main Street, amidst searching for a piece for her kiln. There she met Steve Cook who pointed her in the direction of the McKinney Center, but not without displaying true Southern hospitality. Cook first took her to Earth and Sky chocolates, so she could experience their delightful masterpieces.

When Hitchcock walked into the McKinney Center she explained what she was searching for and a staff member knew just where to get it, and offered to pick up the piece for Hitchcock, considering she was heading to the kiln parts store. Hitchcock was blown away by the kindness.

“I was like Wow! I’m not used to that. Up in New York it’s not really like that.”

That simple encounter snowballed into Hitchcock being part of Fine Art in the Park, a fine art show the McKinney Center holds annually, and then becoming one of their art teachers. You can find Hitchcock at the McKinney Center working with glass while sharing that passion with her students, and hopefully, she says, living up to the standard of care and thoughtfulness that brought me here.”

Kay Grogg

Kay Grogg

Faculty Member

Kay Grogg is a veteran teacher, having spent over thirty years in the Washington County school system, serving first at Asbury Elementary, and then at David Crockett, where she has taught art and photography since 1992. Last year, she joined the faculty of the McKinney Center as a teacher in a new form of art known as “Zentangle.”

Grogg, who earned her Master of Arts Education in Education from Tusculum College, took a master class and earned a certification in the Zentangle method during a five-day intensive in New England, with the founders of the form, along with 109 other teachers from across the world. A large group of teachers from Taiwan attended, in order to learn the method, so they could use it with their autistic students as a way to help them create and focus, and experience the victory of completing a piece of art.

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“Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images, using repeated patterns. In addition to designing a lovely piece of art, the method increases focus and creativity, while reducing stress and anxiety.” Grogg says of the form. “I use it in my classes at school, and the effect it has on the students is incredible. It boosts their confidence, because everyone, whether they consider themselves an artist or not, can do it.”

Grogg also mentions the calming effect that Zentangle has on her students. “It has a sort of Zen-like quality, it is very relaxing.”

In describing how it works, she says it is a sort of metaphor for life. “You start with a pencil with no erases, just like in life you can’t go back and fix mistakes, but you can adapt, and make different choices. The teachers in this method say there are no mistakes. You just go in a new direction.” In helping students discover new directions after a perceived mistake, she helps them discover that they can continue to work on and develop the piece, without going back, and end up with a small masterpiece that incorporates the mistake into a new design, based on that “new direction.”

She says many of her students, both adult and teenagers, use it to relax and meditate, and describes the ease of the form as one stroke, one line at a time.

In her one-day workshop at the McKinney Center, Grogg starts students with a 3 ½ inch square tile. They do a series of these tiles, and at the end of the class, put them together like a mosaic.
She says the biggest take away is that anybody can do this. A person does not have to be an artist to do it. But for those who are artists, she says that they report to her that doing Zentangle helps them to expand their creativity.

“I think it will benefit somebody who wants to do some kind of art, but doesn’t feel artistic. It gives them a lot of confidence, because they leave with something beautiful, of their own creation. “

She described a student from one of her classes. He told her he could not draw, and couldn’t even make stick figures look good. At the end of the class, he was amazed and said, “Wow! I can do this! Look what I did!”

To Kay, helping people discover their creativity is the best part of her job.

Kevin Glasper

Kevin Glasper

Faculty Member

Kevin Glasper is a local dancer with a national reputation. While dance festivals take him across the country to California, his love for this region keeps him rooted here, where he teaches movement and dance, and is hired regularly as a choreographer. His repertoire includes jazz, ballet and hip hop, and it is his hip hop moves that has built his reputation.

“I bring hip hop with me wherever I go. What I mean by that, is that hip hop is about more than just the moves There’s five parts to it, part of it is the moves, it is also the history, the DJing, the MCing, and the graffiti art.”

He points to one of his tattoos. “My tattoos are art that I have drawn- that is the graffiti. Everywhere I go, I share the history, and learn more. And I’m always dancing.”

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Glasper’s life is built around dance, which started when he was a child. “The first song that spoke to me was Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. Before that song, I knew who Michael Jackson was, his songs were the first ones I was dancing to, but that song had a message. I may not have fully known it at the time it came out, I was young, but I knew how I felt about it. It made me want to go after it. Once I knew the words, it made me want to stop dancing just like him, and start dancing just like me.”

He counts as his early mentors the Steppers for Christ in his church, City Youth Ballet, and especially Susan Pace White and Tom Blessing, who helped develop his classical skills and techniques. He also recounts Eva Taylor, who was over the Johnson City Recyclables and Urban Art Throw Down, which helped connect him to the Umoja Festival and Little Chicago.

“I studied hard with all of those groups. I practiced, I listened, I learned. Because dance wasn’t just something fun for me to do. It’s who I am. You can go to school to be anything or learn something else, but if you don’t have a passion, you can grow tired of it. Dance is something I want to keep learning, not just movement, but history, and turn it into a lifelong pursuit.”

Part of this lifelong pursuit is the dance group Universally Complicated Freestylers, which he co-founded with Mark Flowers in 2009.

He takes his work as a dancer seriously. More than a hobby, he says, dance can bring people together, that it is a universal language.

Glasper explains, “People can speak to each other without saying a word. Dancing to music, whether you feel like you know how to dance or not, you are moving because the music makes you feel something. Slow, fast, salsa, jazz, funk, classical, lyrical, it makes you move some way. My joy is helping people connect those moves to their own spirit.”

He said he didn’t always know he would become a teacher of dance and movement. But the more he became skilled in his craft, the more he wanted to share it with others. Glasper also points out there is much more to learning dance than just the moves. There are life skills being taught that will help them grow and mature. In dance and choreography, there is a process of active listening, always big in communication. There is listening and repeating back. He immediately knows if his students are listening when they repeat back the moves he teachers- or not. Critical thinking skills are combined with learning basic movement. Students learn a pattern, take it, then think about how to make it better and make it their own. Behavioral skills are in play, as student discover when it is the best time to add or take away a movement, the right time to ask questions, and when to defer to another dancer.

“I want to become more like that song, ‘Man in the Mirror.’ As I got older, I began to understand what the song said, not just how it made me feel. It was that message of wanting to make the world a better place by being the person I am. Behind the dancing man is a man who cares about the world and the people in it, and the next smile, the next advancement you can make.”

Glasper’s philosophy of teaching is that we all have a chance to make the world a better place. Or not. And we each have a special skill to do that. He believes his is dance. “And that’s what I am doing every time I teach it.”

Larke Foster

Larke Foster

Faculty Member

Larke Foster has been an art teacher for over thirty years. She has always looked at the world through what she describes as an artist’s lens, seen in shapes, colors, textures, and designs. Looking at trees, for example, she will notice the negative spaces and color gradations, and will see shadows on the sidewalks and buildings that intrigue her and stimulates her creativity. She believes artists notice their surrounding in a unique way and their use of medium is how they translate that to the world.
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Ms. Foster has always had an appreciation for the arts, and loved art classes in High School. She went to Furman University as a Freshman in 1976 with hopes of studying painting or Art History. Soon after she got there, she decided that she wanted to teach art ….to children. The school did not have an Art Education program, so she transferred to the University of North Carolina, Greensboro during her sophomore year, which for her was a, “Great decision!! There I met two women professors who opened up the world of Art Education to me. It was life changing. Their approach to teaching art was very new and exciting for the day. It was based on the theory that the child is an artist at birth. It is the teachers job to be the guide.”

This has been Foster’s philosophy ever since, as she explains, “I am still in that discovery period…..always learning to be an artist. I learn along with my students…..as any teacher should strive to do.”

Foster looks to her life experiences as inspiration for her art. These include world travels, as well as loving relationships with her family and children, which provide a focus for her work. She happily explains, “I would live out of a suitcase if I could. New places, new people, languages, food are all highlights when I travel. But they are nothing compared to the chance to see the world’s Art and Architecture in person. Museums are my very favorite places in the world. I have goals to see them all!”

Foster travels with a camera and takes many photos that later find their way on to her canvases. These take forms especially examining light, shadow, doors, windows, and passageways.

In approaching a new work, Foster describes the process as like looking at a million piece puzzle. “There is always an overall goal when I begin, but the journey is full of problems to work out and explore. I like for the painting to evolve and change as I work on it.”

Though Foster has been featured in numerous art exhibitions, she points not to her accomplishments as her greatest moments in art making, but remembers more some of her “failures,” and how especially in those moments, she, learned so much from examining what she did wrong. “I remember some of the first failures. One was an attempt to create a plastic blow up sculpture from mylar when I was an art student in college. It was such a disaster that It took me years to realize what a learning experience it had been.” She goes on to say how she uses experiences from her own life to help teach her students. “I’ve used that example many times to remind students and myself, that experimenting is really the life of creativity. Sometime the results are amazing, sometimes they fail. It is the effort that matters.”

Art plays a large role in Foster’s life, but she looks to her family experiences and her own personal growth as her greatest achievements. “Being a mom to my sons, watching them grow up and become amazing ,talented kind young men, and being present to hear my grandson’s first cry- those are the high points of my life.”

Ever inspiring with her own travels, Foster points out that perhaps her mountain top moment was hiking for four days on the Inca Trail in Peru for her fiftieth birthday, to arrive at the Sun Gate of Machu Pichu at sunrise.

Experiences like these have shaped Larke Foster into the creative force she is today.

Mauren Pickle

Mauren Pickle

Faculty Member

“I’ve always loved the arts and started dancing when I was around five years old.”

Mauren Pickle has been always appreciated the art of classical ballet, and has danced for many years. Under the guidance of Lori Ann Sparks from Central Ballet Theater ballet company, Mauren has performed a wide range of characters for the company’s annual performances for the last three years.

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“I’ve always loved the arts and started dancing when I was around five years old.”

Mauren Pickle has been always appreciated the art of classical ballet, and has danced for many years. Under the guidance of Lori Ann Sparks from Central Ballet Theater ballet company, Mauren has performed a wide range of characters for the company’s annual performances for the last three years.

A student at East Tennessee State University, Mauren will graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in World History May of 2020.

Mauren has recently begun dancing and teaching dance again, after taking a break to pursue her education. Inspired by her mother and her future mother-in-law, Mauren is today integrating her passion for dance with her pursuit of higher knowledge, she says, because these important role models encouraged her to “Strive for the best I can be in the dancing world, as well as everyday life.”

“Rediscovering my passion for dance, and learning that I did not have to give up one thing in order to enjoy another, I began dancing seriously again when I was eighteen. Restarting later than a lot of dancers, I had to catch up pretty quickly. This meant a lot of hard work and practicing stretches and techniques at home.”

Mauren’s challenges have also made her more keenly aware of the challenges others face when trying something new, or coming back to something after being away for a long time. She understands it can be intimidating, which makes her a compassionate, encouraging instructor, as she works with students, meeting them at their own level, and then challenging them to strengthen their skills and reach their goals.

For Mauren, teaching people how to dance is really like teaching people how to experience joy. “I love dancing, it’s a free feeling that helps me relax when the world seems crazy.” Mauren hopes to bring this feeling of freedom and relaxation to the students she will teach in beginning ballet, with courses offered for both children and adults.

Pamela Daniels

Pamela Daniels

Faculty Member

Growing up with a father who was a carpenter and a mother who created beautiful ceramics for their home, I learned to appreciate the art of creating. My parents encouraged my personal expressions, that are inspired by my faith and the joy it brings. This atmosphere of creativity has been my roots for as long as I can remember. Having such a wonderful influence around me all the time, I developed my own heart for making interesting things. The constant question in my mind is, how can I do that? I truly love learning something new. Creating something new brings so much peace and joy! With all the busyness of life, it’s wonderful to find a quiet spot and just take the time to make something – I love trying to figure it out.
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I understand the importance of guidance and mentorship because I had such good guidance. I also know how important it is to allow a student to take the time to develop their own answers. I was blessed enough to have patient parents and teachers who allowed me to take the time I needed to explore, and I want my students to have that experience, too. I learned this a long time ago. I remember I especially loved my home economics class in high school. In this class I truly saw that I could create things that others thought were worthy of wearing. Our teachers were very personal with their help and support, but it was up to me to actually make those things. My first sewing project was an apron. I was so pleased that it turned out, and that it was something that I could actually use. I still love wearing an apron today. So, just like my home economics teacher did, and just as my parents did for me, I want to provide a solid foundation of skills, and at the same time give plenty of room for students to create something original using those skills- something they can use and be proud of.

In my classes, I want to share my passion with my students. I want to bring them ideas that they can try, but that they can take and make their own. I want to teach them techniques that will allow them to express themselves. I spend a lot of time developing projects that I think my students will be able to understand and make their own, so they can have the skills necessary to continue creating on their own, once they leave my class. It’s important to me that they find a way to express themselves.

Being able to express myself through different mediums has become a passion I feel is God given. Where I find contentment is allowing the deep things of my heart to become tangible through the medium of clay. I studied under a local master potter, Ed Lockett, who’s encouragement was all that I needed to move forward into the world of beautiful dirt – Clay. Beautiful dirt allows me the opportunity to say what only my hands can express. What a joy, what a peace, what a blessing! I hope my students are able to find the same joy.

One of the highlights of my work with clay happened when I had a booth at the Blue Plum Festival. It was such a high point for me. My pottery sold at the Blue Plum Festival. Individuals came back the next day to buy other pieces they saw in the booth. It was wonderful to get a thumbs up from the community for something I have been blessed to be able to do.

Sharon Squibb

Sharon Squibb

Faculty Member

As an artist/teacher, who is also on staff as the art teacher at University High School, Sharon Squibb provides students of all ages with specialized instruction in multiple media forms. Her work in drawing, watercolor, acrylics, charcoal portraiture, printmaking, and fabric arts have garnered her regional merit, and her work has been exhibited in multiple art shows, including the Women’s Fund Art Show at the McKinney Center.

Far from keeping her art to herself, Squibb says she thrives on being able to share her knowledge for art and her talent with others who would like to make art. She goes on to say, “I like to make the art classes I teach non-threatening, but challenging in a way that a student can develop to their best degree in that talent.” Squibb’s offerings through the Mary B. Martin Arts programming at the McKinney Center provide a variety of choices for anyone interested learning, or learning more about a broad range of mediums.

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Squibb teaches watercolor, printmaking, paper arts, and drawing, to name a few mediums. To those who think art is daunting, she is reassuring. “We are all beginners at one point. I like to include projects that are easy for everyone to do, and challenging enough for people who want to take it a step further.”

When not teaching art at University High School or at the McKinney Center, Sharon Squibb can often be found on stage at the Jonesborough Repertory Theater. She often designs and paints the set backdrop, but she is also an accomplished singer and performer. She once performed a one-woman show in New York when she lived and worked in the city as an editor with Doubleday Books.

She believes art has an important place in every person’s life. Her philosophy is, “I like to make an environment where students who always wanted to try art, but hadn’t had a chance. To make an environment that is inviting, so they feel welcome and also they feel able. At the same time, I want to have high standards with regard to art curriculum, so when I teach they are getting the best education. And I want my classes to be friendly and enjoyable.”

Terry Countermine

Terry Countermine

Faculty Member

Terry Countermine’s bright smile is the first thing students are greeted with as they arrive at the McKinney Center. The passion and joy he finds as a teacher are evident.

“I think what brings me the most joy is being a part of something that creates happiness, smiles, laughter and memories. When I’m teaching the ukulele class, I can see the faces of students, young and old, as they play a new chord or sing a new song. As they learn, there is a joy that spreads across their faces. There is a sense of accomplishment that helps them to want to learn more.”

He has been married to his best friend, Sandy, for forty-three years, and the two have resided in Jonesborough since 1990, when he came to teach at East Tennessee State University.

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Terry Countermine retired as a professor from ETSU, but his retirement was just the beginning of a new teaching experience as he began sharing his love for music in the McKinney Center’s Ukulele Class.

Music has always held an important place in Terry’s life. While he spent his years at ETSU as a computer science professor, he has also been seen regularly at local events for nearly three decades, playing in the Jonesborough Novelty Band, with proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity. In the past twenty-six years, he and his bandmates have raised more than $50,000 for the Habitat for Humanity organization.

In addition to his service to Habitat for Humanity, Terry Countermine has also served for eighteen years as an Alderman for the Town of Jonesborough. As Alderman, Terry has been working to create a more livable, enjoyable community.

Terry brings his leadership skills and excitement for teaching and sharing music in the group Ukulele Class. He appreciates the group setting for creating music, explaining,

“I have always loved music and being a part of a group who forget about the individual and become part of an assemblage of people who are all striving for a common goal – to make music that brings joy.”

This happens in the musical groups he is part of, as well as in the classes that he teaches, and also other groups. He points to the many ways each member of the community can be part of a bigger vision, sometimes through music groups, and sometimes with other organizations with a common goal. Working together, whether musically or not, is something Terry always appreciates when he sees it:

“The people of Jonesborough inspire me as I see leaders and volunteers working on many varieties of projects to make our little town the special place that it is.”

Zoë Hester

Zoë Hester

Faculty Member

Zoë Hester is a graduate student at East Tennessee State University where she is studying in the English MA program and the TESOL certificate program.

Zoë studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and contemporary dance at Dream Dance Studio Inc. before minoring in dance at ETSU. She has had many opportunities to perform at ETSU, including dancing in RENT and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, and at in the Infringe Festival in New Orleans. “Getting to travel to New Orleans to perform with peers from ETSU was definitely one of the most rewarding parts of my time as a dancer.”

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Zoë Hester is a graduate student at East Tennessee State University where she is studying in the English MA program and the TESOL certificate program.

Zoë studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and contemporary dance at Dream Dance Studio Inc. before minoring in dance at ETSU. She has had many opportunities to perform at ETSU, including dancing in RENT and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, and at in the Infringe Festival in New Orleans. “Getting to travel to New Orleans to perform with peers from ETSU was definitely one of the most rewarding parts of my time as a dancer.”

Zoë founded the Amalgam Dance Group, a student led company that offers workshops and performance opportunities at ETSU.

Zoë began dancing when she was four years old, and explains, “I started to become invested in it as an artform around middle school. I spent middle school and high school developing the beginnings of artistry, which I feel like I truly found while dancing in college.”

“Olivia Bartley-Hill, my first dance teacher, taught me so much about dance and art from my childhood through teenage years, and I’ll always be extremely thankful for her presence in my life. Cara Harker, the director of dance at ETSU, helped me to further develop this artistry. I’m also lucky to have artistic parents who have always supported my love of dance.”

As a dancer, Zoë had several injuries that were difficult to get through. Within the last couple years, she had to accept that there are certain aspects of dance that her body won’t ever do again. She says that luckily, most of these are in ballet, which is not her primary form.  Despite the injuries, Zoë has continued to work to strengthen her art form.

“I am inspired by countless amazing artists from so many different genres of dance. I’m also deeply inspired by my dancing friends from ETSU, some of which didn’t start dancing until college. Their love of and dedication to dance is such a beautiful thing to me.”

Zoë strives to bring this inspiration to her own students, in her jazz classes for children, teens, and adults.

When not dancing, Zoë loves spending an afternoon being creative in her kitchen. She also loves spending time with friends and hiking.

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The McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School is a multi-use facility providing arts education through Jonesborough's Mary B. Martin Program.


Phone: 423.753.0562

103 Franklin Ave.
Jonesborough, TN 37659