How 5 inspired WV artisans bring the mountains into their work

The rolling hills of West Virginia and its peaceful small communities are the perfect setting for artistic inspiration and creation.

West Virginia artists use the heritage, culture and landscape to create unique and original art. By using traditional skills with modern techniques and mediums, Mountain State artists create work as vibrant as the hills themselves.

1. Suzanne Knicely

Suzanne Knicely in Shinnston creates a wide range of purses and accessories, as well as children’s clothing, toys, custom orders and alterations. She comes from a long line of Mountain State women who crafted handmade items and intricate needlework. As a child, she remembers sitting at her mother’s side by the sewing machine, which is how she learned her craft.

Knicely uses vibrant patterns and fabrics to create pieces that reflect her passion and heritage, with both traditional and modern techniques. Her work is on display and for sale at Tamarack.

2. Wendy Wassink

Full-time portrait painter Wendy Wassink is a nationally published illustrator with more than 700 works in print. She’s been painting portraits since 1973, and is a formally trained portrait painter.

Her work involves capturing the personalities of her subjects using traditional portraiture, or by create fanciful scenes. With the backdrop of the Kanawha River Valley, she combines traditional elements in her work to capture the unique faces and personalities of Appalachia. Her work is on display and for sale from her studio in South Charleston.

3. Dan Cook

Jewelry maker Dan Cook creates cast glass and silver jewelry. He incorporates modern techniques with traditional methods to make truly original wearable art. His designs have carvings and etchings, combined with bright eye-catching colors.

Originally from Ohio, Dan now makes his home and his art in West Virginia. He uses the natural beauty of West Virginia to inspire his creations, mixing interpretation of light to create an understanding of the natural world. He finds working with something as old as metal to be fascinating. Dan’s work is on display and for sale at Tamarack.

4. Ron Hinkle

Ron Hinkle embraces life as both an artist and an adventurer. He has been creating beautiful and inspiring glass art for more than 39 years. His passion for his work and art transcends earning a living, and has allowed him to create a community in West Virginia that includes other artists, admirers of his work, friends and family.

Influenced by his Mother and Aunt from an early age, he has been in love with art and developing his own artistic abilities. You can watch Ron creating his artworks, view his pieces and purchase your favorites at his gallery in Buckhannon, where he shares the magic of glass with everyone.

5. Kathy Hanby

Kathy finds inspiration from being enveloped by nature, and has made her home in Lost River, which is perfect for the artistic lifestyle. As child, Kathy fell in love with West Virginia when she visited with her grandparents, and when she met her husband she moved from Delaware to make her home in the rolling hills.

The peace and inspiration of her surroundings reflect in her work. She created many different types of art before finding her passion in glass. She’s been working with glass for more than 15 years.  Kathy’s work is on display and for sale at Tamarack.

How do the mountains inspire you? Do you have a favorite West Virginia artisan?

Explore more WV artisans >

This post was last updated on July 21, 2020