Celebrating Dr. Lacey Southerland: A pillar of the Valley art community

Published 9:00 am Friday, July 7, 2023

VALLEY — The Valley Arts Council has presented a special award to Dr. Lacey Southerland for her leadership and organizational skills for the past 10 years in Arts Council events. Southerland is retiring from Point University after a 25-year career as an instructor, first at Atlanta Christian College and since 2011 at Point University. She will soon be moving back to her hometown of Longview, Texas, where she has extended family. Her mother, sister, brother, nephews, and great-nephews live near there.

“We could not have done the youth division of our art shows without her,” said Arts Council President Suzie Britt. “She’s the only youth director we have had in the more than 20 years we have had art shows. She has been invaluable to us. She worked with local teachers to get their students to enter our Autumn Leaves shows, lined up the judges, and created special awards for outstanding student artists. She will be irreplaceable. We so much appreciate what she did for us. She has been such a good friend to our local art community.”

“I don’t know what we would have done without her,” said Arts Council representative Martha Cato. “I don’t know what we will do now. I’m hoping she can help us find a successor for our youth division.”

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Britt says an art show takes at least a half year of planning for it to be presented appropriately. Past shows have filled up the big gym at Valley Community Center and drawn good crowds on the Saturday and Sunday they take place during the fall of the year.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Lacey,” Britt said. “She is the epitome of the selfless volunteer. From start to finish, she always took care of all the details necessary in making our youth division shows successful.”

Being the youth division director of the Valley Arts Council’s annual Autumn Leaves Art Show is one of many hats Southerland has worn in the local community. She has been a key person in the startup of the Chattahoochee Early Learning Academy (CELA), located off O.G. Skinner Drive in West Point. This innovative school helps begin a lifelong love of learning at only three years of age. At CELA, Point University students and Legacy Link trainees assist lead teacher Rebecca Pankey with classroom activities in an environment that fosters children’s development through a play-based approach.

Southerland has also been a valuable asset to Hawkes Children’s Library. During the Covid shutdown in 2020, she led outdoor programs for children in the pavilion overlooking the Chattahoochee River.

She will soon continue her love of children and their education in a new location. She has accepted a position as a kindergarten teacher at Gladewater Primary School in Longview.

“I am excited about it.” she said. “I have pulled out all my kindergarten stuff and can’t wait to get started. I am going to miss this place. It has been a special part of my life. I am going to miss working on Arts Council projects. The funny thing is everyone thinks I’m an artist because of my involvement with the Arts Council. I’m not, but I want to promote those who art artistically gifted.”

Southerland has a brother living in Florida, but all her other nearest kin are in Texas. In West Point, she’s 10 to 12 hours away from almost all of them. Back home in Longview, she will be much, much closer.