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Terri installing work at the Imperial Center, Rocky Mount, NC


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Terri Dowell-Dennis
BS in Art Education with a concentration in sculpture in Women's Studies, 1985

Terri Dowell-Dennis graduated from Appalachian in 1985 with a B.S. in Art Education, concentration sculpture. She is currently Associate Curator of Education at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Terri's degree from Appalachian helped her land her first museum education position after graduate school at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem. She was there for over 17 years, 14 of those as Curator of Education.

In her current role as a museum professional, Terri has created two new programs for the Weatherspoon Art Museum: Art and Writing Experiences (AWE) is a program for elementary and high school students, where they create art-inspired writings in our galleries. Teen Art Guides is a program where high school students meet biweekly to learn about the museum, develop interpretive strategies, and take advantage of volunteer opportunities.

Terri is both educator and artist and she continually attempts to balance these roles. "For the past twenty years, my profession has been museum education, and while I dearly love to share the richness of art and museum culture with all members of the public, I find that my work in the studio sometimes feeds me in a way that nothing else can," she says. She is a recipient of two North Carolina Arts Council Fellowships (2000, 2006), a Regional Artist Project Grant (2000), and a North Carolina Arts Council Project Grant (1993).

As an artist, Terri has learned not to take herself too seriously. "At the end of the day, what matters most is having done your work, whatever it is, with honesty and integrity."

The most valuable thing I learned came from Sherry Waterworth Edwards, one of my professors at Appalachian and primary mentor. In a nutshell, it is to look to the things you love for inspiration—not to the work of other artists. This does not mean to be ignorant of what has come before you. What it does mean is to understand the value of self-knowledge and the importance of finding your own voice.

She advises art students to "understand that art does not exist in a vacuum. All knowledge is interconnected. Mine who you are and what you care about for meaning. Art, like life, is rooted in process. Don't be too caught up in creating toward an end. Take an experimental view toward the work you undertake, and don't ever be afraid to fail!"

Terri is following her own advice. In her studio practice, she is working on a new idea for a series tentatively called 'small problems'. "I look forward to seeing where it takes me," she says.

August 2011

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