As featured in the The ART Beat


The Art Beat is a monthly Forsyth Women column by Taryn Jerez that keeps its finger on the pulse of Forsyth’s artists and their inspiring stories.


This month’s featured artist, Carrie Leigh Dickey, has pulled artistic passion and prowess from her Salem College roots to curate a career leaving footprints from paintings and web design to interiors and stage productions. This avid supporter of the arts is on a journey to not only reach her full potential but be a catalyst as other artists strive to meet their own.

Carrie Leigh Dickey

Artist, Designer, Avid Arts Supporter


How would you describe your work? I am a trained oil painter (BA in studio art with a concentration in oil painting from Salem College), yet I mainly work in acrylics. I like experimenting in order to make acrylic paint function as oil paint. Subsequently, I love to create marks with anything that is not a paint brush including my fingers, old credit cards, and aluminum foil. I can often be found removing paint from a canvas with a garden hose.


What influences your work most? I am inspired by nature and young children’s raw and organic approach to art.


How have you evolved, personally, as an artist? When I first began as an artist, I was afraid of imperfections: I wanted to make each mark perfect. I held on too tightly to my work. It was when I started teaching art that my perspective shifted. I was amazed how children didn’t worry about their creations but just enjoyed the process. Inspired, I began putting into practice this concept of raw and organic child-like marks within my own art. That was just the start! I was then inspired by my study of birds. Birds are focused on the now and not the past or present—basically they don’t stress. They do what they can today and save the rest for tomorrow. My newest artistic and personal challenge is to “do the bird”—aka be free in all things. My art has evolved to reflect the beauty of the imperfect as expressed through the use of creative and fresh marks.


How do you carve out time to be creative? It can be hard. My best found plan is to station paints and a fresh canvas somewhere in my house—usually my kitchen. The supplies may sit there untouched for a while, but they are there inviting me to be creative. Usually, it only takes a few days for the invitation to take hold and a new piece of art to come to life.


What are you working on that excites you right now? I have just teamed up with Kimberly Varnadoe to found Artfolios. Artfolios—a Winston-Salem based online fine art gallery—celebrates, showcases, and promotes artists in the Winston-Salem area. Our personalized approach to art collecting is three-fold: we curate an online art gallery offering a hand selected collection of fine art originals; we collaborate for corporate art installations; and we individually consult patrons helping them find the perfect art match.


How did you come up with the idea for Artfolios? At the start of the year, I had a spark of an idea to do something locally this spring/summer with fellow artists. I reached out to Kimbery Varnadoe, who was my professor when I studied at Salem College, and shared my idea. She, in essence, advised me to, “Dream big!” And, I did! A few days later, I had a business plan, a business name, and a team of people—including Kimberly—willing to help me set up and launch Artfolios.


What is one piece of advice you’d like to share with fellow artists? You have value and worth. The world needs you and your creative marks.