How did you get started in your art?
I have been involved in art for as long as I can remember. I guess it really started when I was in elementary school. My 4th grade teacher used to let students submit monthly bulletin board designs and my drawings used to win often. She sent a letter home to my parents suggesting that they have me tested for the Putnam County Gifted Art Program, which they did. I was lucky enough to have well known West Virginia Artist Caryl Toth as my teacher in that program until I graduated high school. From there I took two years of Commercial Art and then on to college where I graduated with a bachelor of Fine Arts.
What are the major influences in your art?
I am mainly influenced by the landscape in West Virginia and also by other local artists. Having spent several years working for the Art Store and now working at the Art Emporium in downtown Charleston I continue to be surrounded by the art of well known state artists as well as the new and upcoming creators in our city.
What differs your technique from other artists?
I am a abstract expressionistic painter. I have been told I have a very unique style. I know that the brushstrokes and the color of my work reflect my innermost feelings. My paintings are usually large and hard not too notice.
How do you describe the art scene in Charleston?
I think Charleston has a thriving art scene on a smaller scale. Having been to larger cities such as Columbus, Ohio and Asheville, NC which are very art oriented I think we hold are own. There is a lot going on, and a lot of talent in this area, not too mention a wide variety. I have the privilege of working for a gallery downtown so I meet several artist every week with a range of abilities, and styles. It is all great! Also I must mention the Artwalks…a great time to get out and see what is there. More and more artist are joining and opening up their studios to allow locals and visitors to the city to experience our “art scene”
How receptive are the people of Charleston towards your art?
I have had a great response to my art. I hear “I love the color“ at least once a week. I have sold several pieces in the past few years. I always feel great when someone buys a piece of my art and I find that they own pieces of other West Virginia artists that I have looked up too like Caryl Toth and June Kilgore. I never thought my work would be hanging in a juried exhibition or in someone’s home right next to theirs and others.
What are your favorite art pieces around Charleston?
Too many to mention. I would guess most of it is the work of local artists owned by local individuals and businesses. I get several opportunities to frame the art that people buy and to visit office buildings downtown and view the collections of others. There is June Kilgore painting that I love at the law firm of Bucci, Bailey and Javins and also a great Charly Jupiter Hamilton at the Head South hair salon across the street. Of course the work at the Art Emporium is always changing and fantastic as well. I’m lucky, I don’t have to go far.
What particular things in Charleston inspires you to create art?
It would have to be the work of other local artists and our landscape. Although my style is completely different I am sometimes intrigued by other artist’s compositions, subject matter and color combinations. One inch of someone else’s work can inspire me to create a 5 foot painting. I also often paint a representation of the sky that I saw on the drive home from work, or the reflection of the city lights on the river.
If you were to create an art piece depicting Charleston, what medium, technique and inspiration would you use?
I would keep it in my expressionistic style and would probably stick with my old faithful acrylic paints. The skyline of the city and the reflections in the river would definitely be portrayed. I would also express the conversations I have had with the people I have met.
Where would you recommend tourists to go for the best place to experience Charleston’s art scene?
I think the best way is to “do” the Artwalk. You can meet the local artists in a laid back setting. You can experience the whole art scene this way. You can start by meeting the artists who have their individual studio doors open, move up to the more informal galleries such as the Art Emporium, Annex Gallery at Taylor Books, Gallery Eleven, and the Purple Moon and finally you can visit the Clay Center for a more formal style of viewing art. They have a wonderful permanent collection of famous artists as well as the locals.
Though a native of Hurricane, WV, Traci Higginbotham has been working in Charleston for several years as the manager of Art Emporium, a gallery in Quarrier Street at the heart of downtown Charleston. She has attended Winfield High School, and went on to graduate from the University of Charleston with a bachelors degree in Arts Administration and Interior Design. Traci’s work can be viewed online on her website, TheColorfulArtist.com.