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Anderson’s Kathy Moore goes from golf champ to SC art educator of the year

Kathy Moore is a gifted golfer. Her natural ability earned her junior golf honors in Alabama and Anderson County Women’s Champion as an adult. But the best gift that golf gave her was a chance to go to college – at age 40 – and a career in education that recently earned her the prestigious Mary Whyte Art Educator Award.

“I started playing golf when I was about nine and playing competitively at about 11,” Moore explains. “I was on my high school team and played competitively during the summer, but I didn’t play in college.”

Moore calls her first attempt at college “a blur” that lasted only one semester.

“I was a terrible college student,” Moore says matter-of-factly. “I took out a student loan that my Dad made me pay back. It was a big mistake in my life, but a real life-lesson that molded me.”

Moore married at 19 and had her first child at 23. A military wife that moved frequently, Moore was a stay-at-home Mom who found little time for golf. Going back to college was always in the back of her mind, but she knew she’d never do it if she had to pay for it – especially with three children.

After moving to Anderson in 1993, Moore got back into the swing of golf after a 15-year layoff. She won club championships, was crowned Anderson County Women’s Champion and served as the girl’s golf coach at T.L. Hanna High School. Then life changed.

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“Anderson College started a women’s golf program and offered Jay Seawell the coaching position,” Moore recalls. “Jay asked me if I would play if I was offered a scholarship, and I agreed.”

Then she was told she would have to take the SAT. “That’s where my past came back to haunt me,” she said. “I knew I wouldn’t do well so I said I wasn’t going, but they used my old ACT score which was barely good enough to get me in.”

Moore has lost touch with Seawell, who now is the head coach of the men’s golf team at the University of Alabama. She often wonders how he would feel, knowing how that one scholarship changed a person’s life.

Practice what you teach

Moore graduated with honors from Anderson College in 2004, earning a degree in art education. She knew she wanted to teach at T.L. Hanna High School, so she got her foot in the door teaching a class entitled “Strategies For Success – The 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens.” She waited in the wings for two years, becoming a visual arts instructor when one of the school’s art teachers retired.

“I love art and I’ve dabbled in it over the years,” Moore says. “I’ve always had the attitude that I could make anything – clothes, curtains, anything.”

In addition to teaching, Moore works as a professional artist with a focus on Assemblage Art – a medium that features three-dimensional elements on a substrate.

“My children would tell you that I’m a hoarder,” Moore says with a smile. “But I love old things, rusty things, old pieces of wood. I’m very process oriented, so my art is as much about creating as it is the end-product. Assemblage art satisfies my passion for creating and my passion for collecting.”

After taking an encaustic class in Asheville, Moore began pouring beeswax, resin and pigment into old drawers with the encaustic paint serving as the backdrop for her assemblage vignettes. Images of her Junk Drawer Series can be found online at Kathy Moore Assemblage Artist. At any one time, her body of work includes 60 or 70 pieces.

Her work has been showcased during exhibitions at Belton Center for the Arts, Anderson Arts Center, Greenville Center for Creative Arts and The Bascom: Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands, NC.

“I have always believed that I should practice what I teach,” Moore said. “Being a professional artist makes me a better teacher.”

Meanwhile, back at T.L. Hanna High

The art department at T.L. Hanna has four instructors who teach more than 600 students. While class offerings have increased dramatically in recent years, funding has not. To raise funds for art supplies and other classroom needs, the award-wining students in the T.L. Hanna Visual Art Department now present the annual Wearable Art Show.

“Wearable art was my 2 a.m. idea as I lay awake thinking about how we could raise money,” Moore said.

Born out of frustration, the Wearable Art Show has been the visual arts program’s saving grace, raising more than $7000 over the past two years. Coming Feb. 22 to the Anderson Arts Center, the 2020 Wearable Art Show will feature full-length dresses, suits and full-bodied masks created from recycled or unconventional materials. This year’s event will include a Foodie segment with dresses made from paper supplies from Guy’s Pizza, Groucho’s, Bojangles, Wendy’s, Freddy’s, Jimmy John’s, Krispy Kreme, McDonalds and Burger King.

“We went from 18 recycled dresses the first year to 45 this year, with 90 percent of the work being done in class,” Moore said. “The show keeps growing and it’s really becoming an anticipated event in the community.”

Mary Whyte Art Educator Award

Moore believes that the Wearable Art Show played a big part in her receiving the 2019 Mary Whyte Art Educator Award this past November.

Established in 2007, the prestigious award given annually by the South Carolina Art Education Association is designed to highlight a visual art teacher in the state who has demonstrated superior commitment to their students and to their craft.

The award committee cited Moore’s drive and ambition in leading the T.L. Hanna High School visual arts program from two art educators, minimal course offerings and a small percentage of the student population to a program boasting four instructors, 600 students and a 400% increase in class offerings. And it pointed specifically to the program becoming self-sustaining through its fund-raising efforts.

For Moore, the award is further proof that she’s living her passion.

“I’ve always been naturally gifted at golf, but I didn’t love it,” she said. “Talent doesn’t necessarily equate to passion or vice versa. I’d much rather spend time in my studio.”

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