With more than 11,000 followers on Instagram, Bethany Joy Adams is a clear example of how young artists grow success in the digital age. The mixed-media painter is known for buoyant, sun-drenched florals and abstracts. Her canvases are often adorned with affirmations — “Gratitude Changes Everything” is a signature example.
But Adams is also doing the real-time work of affecting change. She graduated from Brevard College in 2014, and at age 27, she’s already three years into her dream job. Adams is the art director of the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County, a local branch of the national after-school nonprofit serving kindergarten through seventh-grade students.
You call it your dream job. Why?
It’s a true honor to be able to show kids how helpful creating art can be. Many of the students at the Boys and Girls Club are facing challenges that no child should have to. It’s amazing the responsibilities that some of them have at home. But art can provide a positive way to cope with their lives and emotions.
Simply allowing them to create to their heart’s desire can provide them with the relief and comfort that they need. Having a safe place to come and have fun doing “kid” activities like finger painting, weaving, coloring, and more can be a real stress relief. They also do service projects. I believe that gives the kids a sense of feeling like they matter, and can help one another through art.
What kinds of service projects?
Things like helping out with younger-grade classes and making paper flowers for retirement homes. Some students were even able to help paint cornhole boards for the Bold Rock [Cider] auction event this summer. We’ve started an art club this fall that will allow students to participate in even more art-related service projects.
Speaking of giving back, don’t you participate in the Hendersonville bear-statue-painting fundraiser?
I’ve done that for three years now. The kids will come running to me and say, “I saw your bear!” It’s fun to share with them that I’m not just an art teacher, but I do art as a way of life.
They must think it’s cool to know a real artist.
Well, for me it’s cool to get to create both at home and at work, and to have a day job that lets me do that.
Your color palette tends to be very recognizable: radiant and hopeful. Do you have your students follow this example, or do they get free rein to follow their personal sources of inspiration?
I always allow my students to choose their own color preferences and inspirations. When I’m showing them examples or techniques, I tell them they can follow my lead if they desire, but it’s ultimately their choice because it’s their art.
Obviously, you love flowers and the natural world. What are some of your favorite fall specimens to paint?
In the fall, I love choosing flowers you might see more often with the changing of the weather and leaves — dahlias and sunflowers, for example. I tend to still use bright colors for autumn, but love mixing in more brown tones, tan colors, reds, yellows, and olive greens. I also love incorporating quotes that are more oriented
towards Thanksgiving, such as “thankful and grateful, today and
everyday” or “count your blessings.” Creating fun abstracts are always a passion of mine, as well.
Bethany Joy, bethanyjoyart.com, Bethany Joy Art on ETSY, and on Instagram: @bethanyjoy_art. Adams’ work is on display at Dogwood Mountain-Inspired Provisions (2720 Greenville Hwy., Flat Rock, 828-708-2108) and at Mountain Juicery (637 Spartanburg Hwy., Hendersonville). On Saturday, Oct. 6, she’ll have a booth at Vintage Hendo at Southern Appalachian Brewery (822 Locust St., 828-329-3118).