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From STAFF REPORTS

“The librarian said it wasn’t art,” Chasidy Hathorn read as she pointed to the words painted on the mixed medium piece hanging on the wall of her historic home.

Hathorn, a former school teacher and now an art teacher at the McKinney Center, said “I had to retire from public school teaching because it got to the point that I couldn’t help those kids anymore. There were so many rules and so much red tape. When I got home I felt like I was crushing children’s dreams, and I wasn’t going to do that anymore. That is why I do what I do, and this painting is a reminder of that.”

As Hathorn continued up the stairs, her fingers traced the woodgrain of each picture frame surrounding the unique pieces on her wall. “When I began my journey at the McKinney Center, I found that the kids were so brilliant and fun!” she said. “It revived in me a child-like view of art.”

The McKinney Center continues to grow as an arts and humanities mecca where creativity and expression come to life.

Now in 2017, the McKinney Center will continue to incorporate classes of all kinds including the one Hathorn will teach.

From brilliantly bright, acrylic-gold speckling works of her own to creatively crafted canvas pieces by students filling her collection, it’s evident the inspiration each brings to her heart.

“Sometimes we get so caught up in details of a still life or trying to make our paintings into photographs, but these kids were just having fun and they loved it,” Hathorn said.

“I want to help them to continue that and not lose it. Let’s not take that away from them. Let them be creative, color outside those lines.”

Every time Hathorn passed a piece on her wall she smiled with each glance. These pieces of art, she believes, are sharing their story.

“And who are we to say what kids do. We are going to have a curriculum and a guide but at the same time I want them to have fun, paint their emotions, paint what they see, not what we see.”

A Mississippian at heart and a well-known artist in the region, Hathorn found a home at the McKinney Center back in 2014.

“When we first moved here I was trying to find my way,” she said. “I was almost afraid to get involved, to get settled. I finally began to explore, and I found the McKinney Center. They made me feel like home.”

While Hathorn worked on a piece inspired by her grandfather, she gently glided her brush over the words “empty chair” while she described days of the past spent with him.

She routinely took a step back while looking at the canvas, then leaned over to dip her brush into the gold paint sitting on the antique British table in the middle of her studio.

In the spring, Hathorn’s journey at the Mckinney will continue, with her teaching children’s fine arts, fine art construction and homeschool art classes. It will entail everything from mixed media collage to clay hand building, knife pallet painting, upcycling and even a bit about historic artists.

“I want them to leave confident with their talent and to know that each child is unique and special.” Hathorn said, “I don’t want them to look at each other’s works and say, ‘my work isn’t as good as so and so’s.’

“I want them to see all of their works as a masterpiece.

“I want them to leave feeling like true artists, like they are creative. I want them to make friends and I want them to leave with a sense of appreciation for art.

“Because every single one will leave as little Picassos.”

If you are interested in taking Chasidy’s class or another class at the McKinney Center email McKinney Center Director, Theresa Hammons at: theresah@jonesboroughtn.org or call 423-753-0562.