Carolina Arts logo

Feature Articles

October 2011

Haywood County Arts Council in Waynesville, NC, Features Works by Artists of Signature Studio

The Haywood County Arts Council in Waynesville, NC, will present the exhibit, The Artists of Signature Studio, on view in Gallery 86, from Oct. 19 through Nov. 12, 2011. A reception will be held on Nov. 4, from 6-9pm.

Located in Morganton, NC, and founded in 1981, Signature Day Program and Signature Studio are an alternative to the traditional Day Program option; offering creative expression and learning opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A private non-profit studio of The Enola Group, Signature Studio is designed to provide the space, equipment, tools, and technical assistance in an environment rich in support and encouragement for participants to foster their individual interests and talents in visual and performing arts. The goal of Signature Studio is to provide meaningful activities that enhance, enrich, and expand a person’s life.

Currently, Signature Studio supports the work of five master artists and one emerging artist. In addition, Signature Studio provides instruction and encouragement to two skilled musicians; a classical pianist and operatic vocalist, and a composer of independent pieces of work.

Signature Studio artists have enjoyed exhibitions and shows organized by MESH Gallery in Morganton, NC, Gateway Gallery in Winston-Salem, NC, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and international showcases such as Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland. As well, one of Signature Studio’s Master artists is represented by Ricco Maresca Gallery in New York, NY.

This exhibition includes work by Brooks Yeomans, Harold Crowell, Sarah Britt, Jake Holmes, Laura McNellis, and Beverley Ramm.

Brooks Yeomans creates dense, painterly work using acrylic on canvas and paper. Drawing from his daily life, Yeomans has an exceptional photographic memory. He often includes the most minute details in his paintings employing his unique “bird’s eye view” perspective. His vastly populated work includes very specific people and objects from a particular moment in Yeomans’ life. This approach allows the viewer to observe a complete vista within a single painting. Yeomans creates reams of sketches for future paintings.

Yeomans says, “I feel a lot more free” in his space at Signature Studio’s new light-filled building. He appreciates the room and being able to see outside while he works.

Harold Crowell has been creating art since childhood. The first artist to enter Signature Studio program, his vivid use of color and strong compositions have garnered the attention of museums, galleries, and collectors across the nation. Crowell’s work has been exhibited in traveling shows organized by The North Carolina Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Considered a brilliant colorist, Crowell finds inspiration in everyday surroundings, people, birds, and religious themes. Strong, confident lines also set his work apart.

Crowell enjoys the light in his new space at Signature Studio, where he is working with acrylic and watercolors from field sketches and still-life compositions.

Sarah Britt works in a variety of materials, including colored pencil on paper, paper-mâché, and hand-sewn fabric panels. Her pieces usually include a pantheon of animals, often cavorting with humans and sometimes with cryptic balloon captions. Fairy tales, television, and experiences from her own childhood inspire Britt to create boldly colored work that is childlike in concept but sophisticated in composition and execution. She enjoys creating dioramas and dollhouse-like environments. Often the full meaning of these environments is known only to Britt.

Last fall Britt hand-sewed her own Halloween costume, “Rainbow Walrus,” and is currently studying the art of the Hopi people.

Diagnosed with Autism at four years of age, Jake Holmes is inspired by scenes involving policemen and other people he meets in his daily life. He often depicts these people in his work, with their name written above their likeness. Upon meeting someone new, he will ask their date of birth and will effortlessly calculate which day of the week the birthday falls upon. On any given day, Holmes will be working on a birthday card for a friend or acquaintance. Signature Studio gives him the recognition, resources, and time for his talents. For Holmes, his whimsical work serves as a direct mode of documenting and communicating his life and interests.

Most recently, Holmes is strongly influenced by Asian art, and surrounds himself with Japanese prints and floral designs.

Laura McNellis, who has profound intellectual disabilities, taps directly into a bottomless source of imagery. Influenced by fashion, food, and pop culture, her work is broad, abstract, and expressive. Typically, McNellis includes a shining sun, clouds, and often bluebirds in her compositions regardless of the subject. She will often trim the corners of a work upon completion. Her obsessive dedication to her vision, her strong unrestricted lines, and reuse of common themes has gained McNellis an international following. Her work is included in the “Collection de L’Art Brut” in Lausanne, Switzerland.

McNellis is currently exploring a variety of media and techniques, including watercolors. She is also working on a special collection of paintings for a show in New York City.

Born in Winston-Salem, NC, Beverley Ramm became involved in the Creative Therapy Department soon after moving to Morganton’s J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center in 2004. Using her camera to depict her world, Ramm captures scenes of her daily life and those of her fellow artists. Fascinated by Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton, she personally presented one of her photographs of a cool mountain scene to Miss Parton on a visit to Dollywood.

Currently, Ramm continues to hone her photography skills, often spending large portions of her day behind the lens. She is also painting large pieces of poster board with colorful, abstract shapes and figures, often embellished with glitter.

The mission of the Haywood County Arts Council is to build partnerships that promote art and artists, explore new cultural opportunities, and preserve mountain artistic heritage.

This project was supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division or the Department of Cultural Resources. The mission of the North Carolina Arts Council is to make North Carolina a better state through the arts. The council nurtures and supports excellence in the arts, and provides opportunities for every North Carolinian to experience the arts. A division of the Department of Cultural Resources, the Arts Council serves as a catalyst for the development of arts organizations and facilities throughout North Carolina with grant funding and technical assistance.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Arts Council at 828/452-0593 or visit (


[ | October 2011 | Feature Articles | Carolina Arts Unleashed | Gallery Listings | Home | ]



Carolina Arts is published monthly by Shoestring Publishing Company, a subsidiary of PSMG, Inc. Copyright© 2011 by PSMG, Inc., which published Charleston Arts from July 1987 - Dec. 1994 and South Carolina Arts from Jan. 1995 - Dec. 1996. It also publishes Carolina Arts Online, Copyright© 2011 by PSMG, Inc. All rights reserved by PSMG, Inc. or by the authors of articles. Reproduction or use without written permission is strictly prohibited. Carolina Arts is available throughout North & South Carolina.