At MSU, Madison Anderson went from art student to artistic director

Madison Anderson (Class of 2020) always had a passion and talent for art as a child. As the Paintsville native grew older and neared graduation from Johnson Central High School, Anderson’s artistic career prospects changed.

“I remember looking up ‘What can I do with an art degree?’ I was like, ‘Huh, gallery curator, that’s pretty cool,’ she said. “I want to be on the art scene doing administrative stuff.”

Thanks to her decision to go to college at Morehead State University, Anderson is doing just that as Artistic Director and Recovery Culture Coordinator for the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman.

Anderson’s decision to attend MSU was easy for several reasons. His mother, Diana Pack (Class of 1992), father, John (Class of 1992), and older sister, Morgan (Class of 2017), are all MSU alumni. In high school, Anderson visited MSU and the Department of Art and Design when she visited campus each year to participate in MSU’s High School Art Day and exhibit her work in the Claypool-Young Art Building.

“I already had an idea that Morehead State had a really good, strong art program. When I finally decided to get into art, Morehead State is where I ended up coming,” she said.

After becoming a student, Anderson fell in love with the tight-knit nature of the campus community and the personal attention of her professors. They encouraged her while pushing her out of her comfort zone to benefit her creativity.

“I really enjoyed my time with all the teachers because you could really tell how much they cared about your time there and helping you hone your skills,” she said.

Madison Anderson graduation photoWhile Anderson said she didn’t discover her favorite artistic medium of photography and ink drawings with watercolor until her freshman year, she immediately knew she wanted to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in art. and design with a minor in artistic entrepreneurship. On her way to graduating, she interned with Golding-Yang Art Gallery Director Melissa Yungbluth while gaining valuable insights into event planning and grant writing. that would help him in his future career.

“It’s not just the art classes you take, but you also take a lot of classes that a business student would take,” she said, of the art entrepreneurship minor. “It gives you a really good foundation on how to be a good independent artist and how to promote yourself and get your name out there.”

After graduating in 2020, Anderson worked at the You, Me & Pottery store in Prestonsburg. Later, she found herself dividing her time between there and the Appalachian Artisan Center after applying and securing an internship. While the training focused on marketing, Anderson also found herself helping rearrange and set up artwork in the gallery, promoting workshops, and managing the center’s social media accounts. She had to cut her internship short when the center offered Anderson her current role.

In addition to planning workshops and directing the programming, organization and presentation of exhibits, Anderson also oversees collaborations with the Hickory Hills Recovery Center in Emmalena and the Creekside Recovery Center in Pippa Passes. Every Wednesday, locals come to work on ceramics, forge knives and tomahawks or build dulcimers.

“I think of it as a brain break. They can do something with their hands to distract themselves from the recovery they’re in,” Anderson said. “I love it because most of the time we get people coming in and there are so many people starting to realize they have a skill in something they never thought of before.”

Anderson admits she thought getting a job like the one she has now would require her to move to a big city, not 45 minutes from her hometown. But being able to soak up, preserve and pass on the artistic culture of the Appalachian region was a nice surprise that she didn’t see coming.

“To be honest, I didn’t know what a dulcimer was until I came here. Now I can tell people, ‘Hey, you can go here and make your own dulcimer.’ It’s stuff like that that’s really cool that you don’t do every day,” she said. “I just fell in love with following the traditional arts that are native to our area.”

To learn more about MSU’s Department of Art and Design programs, visit, email [email protected], or call 606-783-2766.

College can change lives and communities. A higher level of education increases tax revenue, lowers unemployment and even improves health outcomes. Learn more about the KY Council on Post-Secondary Education at

Photos: Madison Anderson (Class of 2020), who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design with a minor in Artistic Entrepreneurship, is now Artistic Director and Salvage Culture Coordinator for the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman.

Kayleen C. Rice