Featured Artwork
by Heather Shirin

"The Laurel of Asheville"

See more
artwork by Heather Shirin








I relocated from the cold, snowy North to the lovely Asheville NC area in the summer of 2009. What a huge difference my life has seen since then! When I first arrived, I was in awe of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I started painting them all the time. The way the sun would set, silhouetting the range at dusk, was simply breath taking.

Asheville is surrounded by natural beauty everywhere. The mountains form hundreds of waterfalls and lakes, and they are filled with wildlife. I've even seen black bear in my yard! Its stunning views and its ample camping areas have filled my heart with such peace and joy. Asheville is also known for its amazing food, its River Arts District and its galleries. The art scene here is booming. Artists flock here from all over to sell their handmade crafts and fine art.

The area is still small and quaint, but it is growing. Asheville won the "Beer City USA" title a few years in a row - which has gained the attention of beer connoisseurs, and breweries are relocating here for the clean and tasty mountain water.

As a fine artist, I have been very influenced by the area as well. For example, one of my paintings, "The Laurel of Asheville" was inspired by the local magazine, The Laurel of Asheville. They held a contest to repurpose

the older Laurel Magazines to create something new into a piece of art. I chose an article about being an artist in Asheville, highlighting areas within the copy that meant something to me. I painted a portrait of my new friend Erica, and collaged her wedding dress out of the Laurel's pages. I ripped out pieces of paper that built up, layer on top of layer, to create a layered dress. I painted over areas, but left words exposed that meant something to me. I chose words like "Arts Council," "Gallery," and "Asheville Arts." I have been a member of the Asheville area arts council, and I have my art in many of the downtown galleries.

The Laurel of Asheville

It felt like I was finally "home" the day we moved here. I can't imagine moving back North. I've said many times, "You couldn't pay me to move back!” I have never been happier than living in a quiet farm town, with great views of the Milky Way. The differences are everywhere. For example, up North, if you mentioned wanting chickens, people thought that you were weird. Down here in the South, when you mention getting chickens, the response is now, "Oh! I have some! Do you want any?!"...

I am one happy painter living in paradise here in the South.