University honors Arrowmont’s Bill May with 2014 Service to Appalachia Award
Bill May, recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Educational Service to Appalachia Award
(March 18, 2014)– Carson-Newman University has announced Bill May as the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding Educational Service to Appalachia Award. The honor, now in its 25th year, will be presented on Tuesday, April 1, at a special 7:30 p.m. event in the University’s Appalachian Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Throughout its history, Carson-Newman’s Award for Outstanding Educational Service to Appalachia has recognized outstanding individuals for their contributions to the region. Past honorees include: last year’s recipient Jim Claborn, John Rice Irwin, Bill Landry, Helen Lewis, Jeff Daniel Marion, Lee Smith, James Still, and Wilma Dykeman Stokely.
A Birmingham, Ala, native, May has served as executive director of Gatlinburg’s historic Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts since 2011. A national art education center, Arrowmont offers a variety of workshops taught by national and international practicing studio artists and university faculty. Students work and learn in professionally equipped studios at the Gatlinburg campus.
As head of Arrowmont, May has helped create a sound management plan for the school’s operations, expanding programming, and leading a vigorous fundraising campaign to purchase the school’s 13-acre campus. The $8 million fundraising effort has garnered supporters and the attention of media outlets from across the region.
“Bill May’s commitment to art education continues to inspire,” championed Dr. Jennifer Hall, director of the University’s Appalachian Center. “His mission to save Arrowmont is nothing short of heroic. He motivates us all to stand firm in our promotion of, commitment to, and unashamed celebration of Appalachian art and culture.”
May’s love of nature and outdoor activities motivated his move in 1980 to Sevier County and the Great Smoky Mountains. After buying a small farm, he fulfilled a lifelong desire to design and build his own house, believed to be the first passive solar house in Sevier County. During the construction process, which required him to become proficient in the use of tools and knowledgeable in construction techniques, May became increasingly interested in art and design. His introduction to glass art began with an apprenticeship in a stained glass studio. It was also at this time that he began taking classes at Arrowmont, where he found education, encouragement, and inspiration.
Continuing to pursue his passion, May established an art glass studio in 1992 and for over twenty years designed, fabricated and installed art glass for churches, public spaces, commercial buildings, and residences throughout the country. Architectural commissions by May Studios have garnered national recognition and numerous awards, and have been documented in print publications and television. May also designed recognition awards and works donated to charitable organizations, including a commission to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Along with serving as executive director of Arrowmont, May has served as juror for exhibitions and makes presentations on art education and the creative process. He has been a member of an advisory committee for the “Parks as Classroom” program and is currently on the board of The Gatlinburg Gateway Foundation and is an ex officio board member for the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce and the Gatlinburg Visitor and Convention Bureau.
“As an artist, instructor, and now director, Mr. May has worked tirelessly to promote the arts in Appalachia and the respect for Appalachian culture in our global community,” said Hall. “He truly believes in the transformational power of art on individuals and its ability to foster human connections.”
May and his wife, Anne, are the parents of two children, Grace and William.