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2023 Distinguished Artist of the Year

Catherine Pauley

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About the Distinguished Artists Program

The Distinguished Artist of the Year (formerly called Featured Artist) is a platform given to one artist for a full year. This position allows them to broaden their network within our community, to share their passion and art techniques. These artists have the opportunity to curate an exhibition in the Hayloft Gallery, as well as to offer demonstrations and workshops throughout the year. 

The Floyd Center for the Arts is proud to announce our 2023 Distinguished Artist as renowned local artist, Catherine Pauley.

Catherine Pauley is a proud Floyd "Buffalo Mountain Gal through and through." Formal education was important to the Pauley family, and it was a given that after Pauley graduated from high school, she would go on to college. Inspired by her high school Home Economics teacher, she initially majored in Home Economics at Radford University when the university was a teaching college. While taking a required course in Art Appreciation, she discovered that she loved it and changed her major to art, even though few were majoring in art at that time and art careers weren’t supported to the degree they are today.


She did not intend to go into teaching but planned to pursue museum and art history work. A four-month stint studying under a fellowship at the University of Americas in Mexico City was a major learning experience, as well as a culture shock. Pauley returned home to be with her family as her younger brother was being sent off to Vietnam. At that time, her cousin, who taught art in the Floyd schools, was quitting her job to have a baby and suggested that Pauley look into the position. “Lo and behold. I fell in love with teaching,” said Pauley. She went on to teach art in the Floyd public school system for more than three decades.

Although teaching full-time didn’t allow Pauley time to pursue her art fully, when she did create, she was free to do what she wanted, unlike other artists who were trying to make a living with their art and had to bend to market demands. Pauley learned along with her students, pursuing her Master’s degree from Radford University, taking classes and workshops, and passing on what she learned to her students.


In 1978, Pauley helped establish a small cultural arts museum, The Old Church Gallery. The Old Church Gallery preserves the stories and objects that speak to the heart and fosters the roots of Floyd County, and it's creative culture. Find more information about The Old Church Gallery in the link below:


Artist Statement:

"I dabble in lots of materials but consider drawing the root of all of my endeavors as an artist, if I am not drawing with an implement, then I am drawing with my eyes — and as subject matter goes — there is nothing more lovely or challenging to interpret than the human form — to capture the beauty of everyday body language that says, “I am human”.   Body language that says I’m resting…I’m tired… I’m proud…I’m a powerhouse…I’m maybe a little bit sexy…


My drawing is not a means to an end.  The drawing is its own destination.  Drawing does however enrich the other materials and techniques that I use.  What I learn drawing or painting or sculpting or wading in the creek are so closely interwoven that I do not see them as separate things, but as expressions of where my spirit is at a particular time and place.  That can be pensive or wacky, depending on how much coffee I’ve had.


There’s a subtle symbolism in the drawings, in that hands are symbols of our energy – the way we work and play; feet are symbols of how we make our life journey – the path we take.


I use materials and techniques for different needs.  When I draw, I am observing and studying.  When I paint or sculpt or print, I am usually dealing with emotional or spiritual reaction and comment.  When I work in these materials I become an unabashed symbolist and don’t care who notices."

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