Fourteen Buncombe artists receive Artist Support Grant

Press release from ArtsAVL:

ArtsAVL is excited to announce that 14 Buncombe County residents are recipients of the 2023-24 Artist Support Grant. Buncombe County grantees received $31,769 for projects in disciplines including ceramic arts, music, filmmaking, fiber arts, acting, metalpoint, and dance. Twenty-one grantees in total were awarded up to $3,000 each across five counties designated as Region 17 by the North Carolina Arts Council: Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Rutherford, Polk, and Transylvania.

The Artist Support Grant has become a staple for artists across the state of North Carolina, and supports the professional and artistic development of emerging, midcareer, and established artists. Awarded funds may go to completion and presentation of new work (including time to create), career promotion, training, and travel. Region 17 had a total of $44,000 to award.

Glass artist Kathryn Adams will purchase a glass torch that will streamline her business operations and expedite the growth of her production line. An active member of the Asheville art community, Adams has held positions at the Asheville Glass Center and the North Carolina Glass Center, and her work focuses on lighting and decorative elements. She creates beautiful, utilitarian objects, often using classic Venetian glassblowing techniques.

Potter Candice Hensley will fund the purchase of equipment and materials to finish building and maintaining a wood-fired pottery kiln. Hensley makes functional porcelain pots with motifs of food and flowers, elevating the everyday uses of pottery.

Musician Chris LaRue Horton will create a “Campfire Lofi” album that infuses Appalachian folk with modern lofi, creating a soundscape for locals and visitors to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The project weaves together traditional elements of Appalachian folk and the distinctive sounds of the Moog synthesizer. “Receiving the Artist Support Grant is a great honor and makes me feel welcomed as part of the Asheville Artist community,” shares Horton. He adds that the grant will also allow him to invest in gear and hire musicians locally.

Folk/Americana artist Hannah Kaminer will be finishing up her new studio album, “Heavy on the Vine.” Inspired by Appalachian tradition, country legacies, and Americana-style songwriting, it will be her third studio album and her first album as a producer. “This grant makes a huge difference for me and how I am trying to level up as an artist,” Kaminer says. “Making a record and promoting it is approximately twice as expensive as it was five years ago, and this can be very daunting. Getting this grant has eased some of that financial pressure and is enabling me to invest in better marketing and PR for this album cycle.”

Painter and fiber artist Genie Maples will use funds to support finishing her current body of work (titled “Views from a Fall”) and documenting it professionally to secure representation and public exhibitions in major art markets. Maples, a self-taught and self-representing artist, is seeking representation for her large-scale, evocative abstract paintings and detailed fiber assemblage pieces. The theme is the personal and collective journey through loss and confusion to resolution, curiosity, and promise – embodied in the statement “All is well.”

Summer Merritt, co-founder of Pride & Archive Jewelry Design, will use funds to support transforming a woodshop into a safe and efficient jewelry studio. Pride & Archive includes modern wood jewelry and furniture, and Merritt is passionate about redefining wood’s role in the jewelry field by innovating and pushing boundaries.

Silverpoint and digital media artist Carol G. Prusa will use the grant for “Strange Attractors,” a new series that will investigate cosmologies across physics and poetry. It will feature domed silverpoint paintings with video.

Filmmaker Mitch Rumfelt will use funding to advance production of his documentary Kinetosaur, a profile of inventor and sculptor John Payne, one of the most influential artists and community members in Asheville’s River Arts District. “I am thrilled to say that after four diligent years of working on Kinetosaur . . . I am now able to finish our much-needed interviews and advance to post-production,” he shares.

Ceramic artist Kat Reeves will use grant funds to take a workshop with Knoxville-based ceramic and bronze sculptor Tina Curry. After returning to school for a fine arts degree in graphic design and then discovering her passion for pottery, Reeves left a corporate career and moved to Asheville to join the vibrant pottery community. Reeves is currently an apprentice at The Village Potters Clay Center.

Actor and voice teacher Willie Repoley will use grant funds to redesign his website, which will showcase his offerings. “I’ve been working towards this voice and speaking teaching certification since 2022,” Repoley says. “Now that I have finished the program, one of the biggest obstacles to getting the new business going has been the lack of a website where people can learn more and get in touch. This grant is helping me overcome that hurdle, and gives me a way to showcase myself as an actor for hire as well. It’s the right next step for my career, and I’m very grateful for the support.” Repoley is the only Rodenburg-certified voice teacher in the Southeastern United States and the founder of Immediate Theatre Project.

Potter Cara Steinbuchel will be setting up a studio in the River Arts District as she works to transition from an emerging to a practicing artist. Steinbuchel is especially interested in atmospheric firings and alternative firing environments like horsehair, glazed Raku, mummy saggar, and obvara. She will complete the Advanced Studies Program at the Village Potters Clay Center this November. “After years of being an aspiring potter, working on my ceramics skills and education as a student and apprentice,” she shares. “Being selected as an awardee for the 2023/2024 Artist Support Grant marks the exciting moment where I move from being an aspiring artist to being a working artist! The grant will help me to get my own potters wheel and get set up in a shared River Arts District Studio, Second Story Potters from which I can launch my career.”

Kirsten Stolle, a visual artist working in collage, text-based images, and installation, will use the grant to support travel expenses associated with the exhibition “In Feast or Famine,” held at Palo Alto Art Center in Palo Alto, California, from January to April 2024. Stolle’s research-based practice examines the global influence of agrichemical companies on our food system at the intersection of art, science, and culture.

Dancer, choreographer, and dance educator Melissa Wilhoit will support production of “Grains of Identity: Unearthing Our Stories,” a dance-art fusion piece exploring community stories through evolving choreography. She shares that the award “is making it possible for [her] to travel internationally with additional dancers to collaborate in cultural and artistic exchange with Mexican artists.”

Sculptor Leo Woods will create and display a series of sculptures highlighting phases of trans grief. Woods uses creative work as a healing tool for queer and neurodivergent youth, processing joy and grief through detailed small dragon sculptures.

ArtsAVL congratulates the 14 artists awarded in Buncombe County, and the 21 artists awarded in total across Region 17. Find more information about upcoming grants at

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