PIKEVILLE – The University of Pikeville Weber Art Gallery is currently featuring the artwork of Laura Ford Hall and her mother Janice B. Ford. The art showcase, titled “Blessed,” will feature 40 paintings in watercolor, oil, acrylic, tempra, drawing pencil and colored pencil created by the mother and daughter duo. The show runs through July 31.
Ford, who passed in 2007 of cancer, taught her daughter art lessons nearly everyday. “We were always into some kind of artistic project when I was little,” said Hall. “As far back as I can remember, when I was age three or so, I remember painting with my first watercolors, colored pencils and crayons. She would teach me how to mix colors even when I was very young. When I got older, my mother taught me to use acrylics and tempra. As a teenager, I became even more interested in art and began taking art courses at the high school, and my mother would help me learn more at home with every painting or project I did. Then, when I became a college student, I enrolled in my mother’s classes at the University of Pikeville. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not having art lessons from my mother.”
“It is a great honor and privilege for UPIKE to be hosting this mother-daughter exhibit of my former colleague and friend,” said Patricia Kowalok, professor of art at the University of Pikeville. “Janice had been the sole art educator on campus when I came to the then Pikeville College. But Janice’s influence and participation in the Pikeville community and inter-connections throughout this area was much greater than a single job description might suggest. Through time, Janice extended her care to my family and I also had the privilege of seeing her daughter grow and flourish. Relationships with history are of great value and are to be treasured. This exhibit will serve as a source of reflection of how the Pikeville family helps in making us who we are today.”
The works of Ford and Hall portray cheerful subject matter with bright colors. Because of this, the show featuring their work is titled “Blessed.”
“The most special parts of the art showcase to me are two paintings my mother was working on when she passed,” said Hall. “This year, I picked up where she left off and finished them. These two paintings are more precious than gold to me.”
Ford, who was born and raised in Pikeville, was an art teacher and an artist from her early years and studying art at all levels. She was a graduate of Pikeville High School (1960), Pikeville College (1963), and obtained her master’s degree in art from the University of Tennessee (1969). A master teacher, her career in art spanned 41 years. She began her teaching career at the age of 20 at Johns Creek Elementary. She later taught art for the Pikeville Independent Schools and concluded her teaching career as associate professor of art at the University of Pikeville. She was married to Bob Ford for 43 years and Hall was their only child.
“In 2007, when my mom was age 64, she went to be with our Lord and Savior after a short battle with multiple myleoma, a cancer of the blood plasma. It broke me in two,” said Hall. “I didn’t pick up a paint brush for a long time, but I realized that would be the last thing she would want from me … to stop creating. So, I dove back in and continued to use the techniques she taught me.”
Hall, also from Pikeville, is an associate professor of communication for Big Sandy Community and Technical College. She began teaching at BSCTC in 2004 and was the founder of the Big Sandy Singers & Little Sandy Singers and the co-founder of the Big Sandy Idol Program. She serves as an advisor and the chairperson of Big Sandy O.N.E. (the Orientation for New Employees Program). Hall loves to sing and performed with the Kentucky Opry for 14 years before her teaching career at Big Sandy. She now sings in the praise team at her church and also directs the children’s choir. She is married to Brad N. Hall. They have no children, but adore their Bichon Frise puppy, Sammy.
The University of Pikeville Weber Art Gallery is located on the second floor of the Record Memorial Building. A reception will be held to celebrate the duo’s artwork on Thursday, June 30, from 5-8:30 p.m. in the gallery. In addition, the art gallery will be open for viewing each Thursday from 12–2 p.m., on July 7, 21 and 28. Everyone is welcome.