A Reflection on Recognition

Enjoying a quiet and peaceful winter, I had quite a surprise come February 23rd when I received the Berea Arts Council’s 2019 Artist of the Year award. The first words out of my mouth were “how could this be?” I was grateful to learn about this a few weeks before, so I was not an emotional mess at the event and had time to plan my words.

Being an artist can be a solitary life--one where a battle with resistance is a persistent source of irritation at best and a total distraction at worst. Resistance to showing up, resistance to doing, negative internal nagging about everything we do or don't do, about our ideas, our...

Facebook tells me it has been 69 days since my last post on Art & Soul. Time for me to show some love for Art & Soul and give you all a shout out. Yesterday I worked my last day as Artist In Residence at Saint Joseph East Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. The last four years this opportunity has been a gift to me. From rotating exhibits, the transformation of the chapel, rearranging the main lobby to look out onto fountains and garden, talking with patients and filling the hallways and patients rooms with art from talented Kentucky artists, a gift. You will find paintings, photography, pastels, and other original works of art that bring beauty...

On Christmas Day I found myself with my daughter visiting a friend of hers in an Integrative Cancer Treatment Center. This young woman and her roommate gave us a tour of the gardens, the facility, and their room. Before I left, I asked her if I could give her a hug. When we wrapped our arms around each other I felt this boundless love radiating through me and around us. I get cold chills now just remembering it. I wanted more of that!

The very next day I met a woman who told me…You are not here to be an artist you are here as a teacher and a healer, art may be your means but not your purpose. You will never be truly happy until you claim...

In 1997, I was invited to teach an art class to participants at the New Opportunity School for Women in Berea. They hold a three-week session twice a year for low income, middle age women who want a better life. I designed an Art For Self-Expression class as a creative way for them to process their three weeks at the school.

I loved these sessions and the idea dawned on me that perhaps working with women was a good fit for me. Twenty years later I’m still an instructor. 

Art is not a thing, but a way…a way to give a voice to what lies within. I was beginning to feel clearer about my purpose and developed a mission statement for my work as an a...

I worked as a medical assistant for 10 years and at age 36, left to pursue a life as an artist. What a journey this continues to be.

My artwork was accepted into juried shows, the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and I’ve had solo exhibits. I have displayed at many art fairs. That’s kind of like going camping and taking all your artwork with you. I found the "job" of selling my artwork painful! Yet, I love making art.

I was accepted to the teaching roster of artists for the Kentucky Arts Council, to provide artist residences in Kentucky schools.

It was then, that I started to see the creative process rather than the final product, as the...

I met my husband, Peter; at 21 and by 23 we were married with a precious baby girl of our own. They are the loves of my life.

When my daughter was about to turn the age I was when I was abused, I became deeply depressed. I learned this is not uncommon, but admitting I needed help felt like I had some how lost a battle with my abuser. Asking for the help I desperately needed would not be easy.

I spent most of my thirties excavating my soul from what seemed like the rubble of my childhood. During this time my artwork was a great blessing and a big part of my healing. I was able to give voice to the pain that had been buried within.

The monk, Thom...

When we look at someone, we will size him or her up…it is just human nature…but we are just scanning the surface. We know nothing about their day, about their journey and certainly nothing about what lies within their heart.

We all have unique circumstances to overcome but every one of us has opportunities to achieve a better life. By the choices we make, the thoughts we choose to believe and the stories we tell others and ourselves. We all have inherent worth and dignity.

Here is my story…

I was born to a poor, single, teenage mother in one of the poorest counties in Kentucky. At age four, social services had removed me and placed me for adopti...

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© 2017 by Debra Hille. Proudly created by Migo Marketing.

Debra Hille

620 Blue Lick Rd


Berea, KY 40403



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