Class of 2015 Radford University graduate and self-described “proud Appalachian,” Keela Dooley Marshall has rather unexpectedly found her way back home as the Executive Director of the Floyd Center for the Arts.
When she first arrived on campus, she never imagined going on to graduate school, teaching art at universities or directing an arts center. She was simply driven by a passion for sculpture and metalsmithing.
Her professional shift was underway, however, when she met Professor Alison Pack, who took the aspiring artist under her wing and aimed her toward graduate school. While at Radford, she earned a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship grant, crafting a sterling silver teapot as her project.
Marshall (then Dooley) graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art, concentrating in metalsmithing and jewelry design, and was named the Art Department’s Most Outstanding Senior.
From there, Marshall went on to the University of North Texas for her Master of Fine Arts in metalsmithing and jewelry with a minor in sculpture. She then headed back east, becoming the lab manager of a printing and digital fabrication business, a program she developed within the Art Department at Appalachian State University.
Marshall says her new job is all about collaboration and she’s spending time and energy looking for grants and opportunities to connect the Floyd Center for the Arts to the community.
“I am daydreaming every day about what to bring to the center,” she said.
For example, she would like to create a “Fab Lab” like the ones she had in Texas and North Carolina. These “makerspaces” employ a wide variety of design and digital fabrication tools like laser cutters, vinyl cutters, CNC routers, and 3D printers.
“It is my goal to introduce the excitement of digital fabrication in the arts to the public; currently makerspaces are somewhat limited to academia,” she said.
She also wants to create a strong bond with Radford University and its art students. Marshall would like to see student interns and art exhibits in the future.
“I would like for the Floyd Center for the Arts to be an option for students to exhibit their artwork because I know from firsthand experience the struggle of searching for a gallery space and/or teaching opportunities,” she said.
Her first major exhibition as Executive Director is called “Mithila Medley: Contemporary Arts from an Ancient Culture in North India.” It draws in part from Radford University’s permanent collection and is part of a four-museum exhibition this fall of Indian art.
The Floyd Center for the Arts is located at 220 Parkway Lane South in Floyd and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. With no entry fees, everyone is welcome. Information about upcoming events can be found at the center’s website: https://www.floydartcenter.org/