WEST JEFFERSON — August will be a month like no other for the Florence Thomas Art School in downtown West Jefferson. The month will be based on the 7th Annual Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts, which honors a lost artist and shines a light on the women following in her footsteps.

Corey Anne Considine died June 6, 2013 in Calistoga, Ca. The Ashe County native had a passion for the arts, as well as advocating for women of all ages, according to the Florence Thomas Art School. Her father, Pat Considine, helped start the celebration in her honor, and it has grown and developed in that time.

The school will host a monthlong exhibit featuring works from four female artists: painters Kim Abernethy, Jennifer Murphy and Norma Farthing Murphy, and potter Elizabeth Lauer.

Lauer is this year’s “Emerging Artist” a title bestowed upon one artist every year along with a $250 scholarship. The Emerging Artist is someone who is in the beginning stages of their career, regardless of age.

Lauer is not yet a full-time artist, working as an art teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary, and said being named the Emerging Artist was a huge honor.

“It’s really incredible,” Lauer said. “Florence Thomas Art School has been a great resource for me as an art educator. It’s been a great outlet for art outside of the public school system, it provides children’s art camps and they’ve even put up shows of our children’s art so they are pivotal in continuing in continuing art education beyond our schools.”

Lauer added she hopes her work and being given this spotlight can help continue the growth of women in the arts, as well as create a pathway for young girls to get into it.

Florence Thomas Gallery Manager Joni Ray, herself an Emerging Artist in 2014, serves as the Chairperson for the Corey Anne Celebration’s committee.

“For me as an artist, it opened this space up to me,” Ray said. “It made it more friendly and made me feel invited and welcome, so that’s why I think the Emerging Arts is so important.”

Ray said her past experience in the role has helped her shepherd along the women who followed in her footsteps. She added that the celebration as a whole gives many artists a platform for their work and can get visitors more into the arts around them.

With the exhibition as a background, the celebration has three main events. The first is the exhibition’s opening reception, which will feature a concert from the Sheets Family Band, which is from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 9. A week later, Aug. 16, The school will hold an Expressive Arts Workshop, hosted by artist Pat Morrison.

The final event is the celebration’s symposium, which will be from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 17. There, the four featured artists will take the time to speak about their work and experiences.

The application process for next year’s Emerging Artist has already opened. Ray said that since the artists are emerging, there’s a chance the school wouldn’t be able to just find them. The application, along with more information about the celebration can be found at www.florenceartschool.org.

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