Editor’s note: The following Q&A is part of Xpress‘ annual Women’s Issue.
Mathilda Potter, a local artist, arts teacher and vice president of the Arrowhead Artist and Artisans League, discusses the importance of community art centers, the perks of hugs and ways fellow community members can uplift each other.
Who is a local woman you admire and why?
I admire Helen Sullivan for making the art world much more open to the cute little town of Old Fort by being a founding force behind The Arrowhead Gallery and Studios [a subsidiary of Arrowhead Arts and Artisans League]. This nonprofit community art center began about 10 years ago when Helen worked to create a space where art is for everyone. A place where beginners as well as established artists can display, rent studios and take classes in everything from painting to pottery to stained glass.
Helen did all that as her retirement project. Prior to becoming a full-time artist, she worked as a lawyer in the Pentagon, where she survived the 9/11 strike. Helen Sullivan is a true force of nature, and I admire her not only for her art but for her unstoppable spirit.
What is one specific way women can help uplift other women within your industry?
Women can support each other today by truly, physically showing up for each other in person and not only online. We need to remember that we are social creatures, and there is no substitute for a real hug from a real friend!
What’s one way men can better support women in WNC?
Men can and do help support women, and I’m grateful for the men who have lifted me up by sharing their skills and teaching me trades. A kind man taught me pottery, which became my passion and my career. A kind man is teaching me to restore my 1969 VW Beetle.
Despite the bad luck of having a father who was not a kindhearted man, I’ve been incredibly blessed to have the support of good men throughout my journey.
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