Like most children, I started making “stuff” as a small child. It wasn't until I was a victim of art theft at the age of 8 that I understood what I made might be good.  Someone wanted my paper mache duck!


I won my first ribbons in high school and discovered a passion for art that would guide and empower me through my life. In my thirties, I began taking art seriously and found comfort in the healing nature of the creative process. ​I began my formal art studies at Berea College, my first love was sculpture, and it was my main focus. I soon left my decade-long work as a medical assistant to pursue a full-time career as an artist. What a journey it has been and continues to be.


I looked to nature for materials to work with after my studies ended. I started making Earth Spirits, which were figures with wire armatures that were then woven with honeysuckle vine or fiber. Found items from the forest, such as bones, pods, and pieces of wood made extraordinary faces. I juried into the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsman’s with them under mixed media sculpture. I later began working and casting with paper. After more than 10 years working on direct and indirect sculptural processes I was ready to try something new. I wanted more color in my life and painting seemed like a good way to begin.


​I am currently painting in a style referred to as Intuitive Abstract. Intuitive painting is a call and response relationship with color, line, and shape. I use transparent acrylics with many layers to achieve vibrant color and a sense of depth. I begin laying down color on the canvas. Then I select another color that might work well with the first or build on a shape that interests me. I keep this process going until the painting is complete.  This process encourages my growth as a painter, as I consistently make new discoveries. My sculptures and paintings are displayed in both private and public collections including universities and hospitals.


In addition to creating my own artwork, I offer Art for Self-Expression workshops and freelance as a creative consultant in many venues, including nonprofits, corporate and healthcare settings. Learn more here.


On February 23, 2019, Debra Hille was honored as the 2019 Berea Arts Council Artist of the Year. Listen to her acceptance speech at the Stepping Out for the Arts fundraiser on “What is an artist?” and what this award means to her.

From the Berea Arts Council:

Debra Hille is a painter and sculptor, educator and advisor, who encourages others to express themselves through art. Recognition for her talent started when she won awards in high school. But she pursued a different career path for several years before she began art studies at Berea College. After her time at Berea, she gave up her previous job and pursued an art career, jurying into the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen with her mixed-media sculptures. 

She has served as an Artist in Residence at schools, presented staff development workshops for public school teachers, and taught workshops for the Women’s Studies Program at Berea College.

She has shared her time as a volunteer for the Berea Arts Council, Hospice Care Plus, the Boys and Girls Club of Madison County, the Lexington Art League, the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, Common Ground, and Berea College. 

Perhaps her greatest impact has been through her work with St Joseph Berea Hospital and St Joseph East in Lexington to introduce work by local artists into patient rooms and public spaces. At St. Joseph Berea she curates rotating exhibits of items she selects from Berea Arts Council shows. As the previous Community Relations Director at the hospital, wrote “All who enter our doors are given an opportunity to view art they might never have the chance to see otherwise. It also encourages relaxation in the frenetic, worried atmosphere that can develop in a hospital.”

After her personal experience using art to center and ground herself, she developed workshops to help others connect to their creativity and nurture their well-being in stressful times.

We honor Debra Hille as our 2019 Artist of the Year!


Born in _____, Kentucky

Lives & works in Berea, Kentucky



Berea College


Brandman University-Chapman University System, Art4Healing® Certificate Program


Born in Richmond, Kentucky 

Lives & works in Berea, Kentucky



Berea College


Brandman University-Chapman University System, Art4Healing® Certificate Program


Baptist Health Richmond, KY, painting, Morning Flight

Saint Joseph Breast Center, Lexington, KY, painting, Mystic Foundation

Saint Joseph East Cancer Center, painting, Mountain Spring 

Union Church, 3-d painting, Unfolded

Saint Joseph Berea Hospital Chapel, painting, Two Together

Eastern KY University, Noel Studio for Academic Learning, Paintings, Essence and Dawn

Saint Joseph Berea Hospital, painting, Compassionate Heart

Model Laboratory School, 3 piece Sculpture Garden

Mary Rockefeller Morgan, 5th Ave. NY, NY, sculpture

Private collections throughout the USA and Canada

Debra Hille

620 Blue Lick Rd


Berea, KY 40403


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