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At MSU, Madison Anderson went from art student to artistic director 

Madison Anderson Gallery PictureMadison Anderson (Class of 2020) always had a passion and talent for art as a kid. As the Paintsville native grew up and was approaching her graduation from Johnson Central High School, Anderson's art career prospects shifted.  

"I remember actually looking up 'What can I do with an art degree?' I was like, 'Huh, gallery curator, that's pretty cool," she said. "I want to be on the arts scene doing administrative stuff."  

Thanks to her decision to attend college at Morehead State University, Anderson is doing just that as the artistic director and culture of recovery coordinator for the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman.  

Anderson's decision to attend MSU was easy for a few reasons. Her mother, Diana Pack (Class of 1992), her father, John (Class of 1992), and her older sister, Morgan (Class of 2017), are all MSU alumni. In high school, Anderson visited MSU and the Department of Art and Design when she would travel to campus every year to participate in MSU's High School Art Day and display her work in the Claypool-Young Art Building.  

"I already had an inkling that Morehead State had a really good, solid art program. When I eventually decided to go into art, Morehead State is where I ended up coming to," she said.  

After becoming a student, Anderson fell in love with the tight-knit nature of the campus community and the personal attention of her professors. They encouraged her while pushing her outside of her comfort zone to benefit her creatively.   

"I just really enjoyed my time with all of the professors because you could really tell how much they cared about your time there and helping you hone in on your skill," she said.  

Madison Anderson Graduation PictureWhile Anderson said she did not discover her preferred artistic media of photography and ink drawings with watercolor until her junior year, she immediately knew she wanted to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design with a minor in Arts Entrepreneurship. On the way to achieving that degree, she completed a practicum under art Golding-Yang Art Gallery Director Melissa Yungbluth while acquiring valuable knowledge in event planning and grant writing that would help her in her future career.  

"It's not just the art classes you take with it, but you also take a lot of the classes a business major would take," she said, discussing the arts entrepreneurship minor. "It gives you an extremely good foundation of how to be a good freelance artist and how to promote yourself and get yourself out there."  

After graduating in 2020, Anderson worked at the You, Me & Pottery store in Prestonsburg. She later found herself splitting her time between there and the Appalachian Artisan Center after applying for and receiving an internship. While the focus of the training was marketing, Anderson also found herself helping rearrange and set up art in the gallery, promoting workshops and maintaining the center's social media accounts. She had to cut her internship short when the center offered Anderson her current role.  

In addition to planning workshops and leading the scheduling, organization and display of exhibitions, Anderson also oversees collaborations with nearby Hickory Hills Recovery Center in Emmalena and Creekside Recovery Center in Pippa Passes. Every Wednesday, residents come to work in ceramics, blacksmithing knives and tomahawks or building dulcimers.   

"I consider it like a brain break. They get to do something with their hands to get their minds off the recovery that they're in," Anderson said. "I absolutely love it because mostly, we get people who come in and there are so many people who start to realize they have a skill in something they never thought they had a skill in before."  

Anderson admits she thought getting a job like the one she has now would require her to move away to a big city, not a place 45 minutes away from her hometown. But being able to immerse herself in, preserve and pass on the artistic culture of the Appalachian region has been a fulfilling surprise she did not see coming.  

"To be honest, I didn't know what a dulcimer was until I came here. Now, I can tell people, 'Hey, you can go over here and make your own dulcimer.' It's stuff like that that's really cool that you don't get to do every day," she said. "I have just kind of fallen in love with keeping up with the traditional arts that are native to our area."  

To learn more about MSU's Department of Art and Design programs, visit www.moreheadstate.edu/art, email arde@moreheadstate.edu or call 606-783-2766.  

College can change lives and communities. Higher educational attainment increases tax revenue, decreases unemployment, and even improves health outcomes. Learn more from the KY Council on Postsecondary Education at kyhigheredmatters.org. 


Photos: Madison Anderson (Class of 2020), who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design with a minor in Arts Entrepreneurship, is now the artistic director and culture of recovery coordinator for the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman.