2015 Jurors

Janis Wilson Hughes

Sculpture/Architecture/Craft Arts

Janis Wilson Hughes hails from the Smoky Mountains of Johnson City, Tennessee. In 1998 Hughes obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering with an Environmental specialization from Auburn University. Soon after graduating and moving to Wisconsin she began her journey with clay studying under potter Rick McKinney while working as a research scientist and engineer.

For years Hughes continued to study from ceramists from around the country, and she built her own pottery studio in 2004 after moving to Georgia. In 2009, after 11 years struggling to find fulfillment working in Chemical Engineering, Hughes left the corporate world entirely to pursue her passion for clay. She is now a fulltime ceramic artist and owner of Evolution Stoneware Pottery, LLC.

Hughes botanical forms gained notoriety in 2011 when her “Woodland Pod Quintet” was awarded 1st Prize in the 17th Annual Nellie Allen Smith Juried Pottery Competition which was juried by Gay Smith at Cape Fear Studios, Inc. in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And soon following, her solo show “Seeds and Pods” was presented at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.

Later in 2012 Hughes expanded her creative vision for her body of nature inspired work during a fruitful artist residency as a Fellow at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences located in the mountains of North Georgia. Hughes has been featured on the cover of Clay Times Magazine and print articles in Pottery Making Illustrated Magazine and the Ceramic Arts Daily website. While Hughes’ primary focus is on making art, she also teaches techniques through workshops, articles for pottery magazines, short videos, and three commercially available DVDs.

Hughes’ work has been presented in more than thirty exhibitions across the United States and is held in private collections in England. In April 2014 her “Moonlight Migration Totem” was awarded 1st Prize in the Southworks national juried exhibition in Watkinsville, Georgia, and in May 2014 the Art League of Hilton Head presented her second solo exhibition “Cycles of Vitality” at the Walter Greer Gallery on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Last September she completed an artist residency as a returning Fellow at Hambidge where she further expanded design concepts for her nature based forms. Hughes currently resides in Alpharetta, Georgia with her husband Rob and two dogs Luna and Perseus.

Ron Hughes


From 2006 to 2010, Ron Hughes owned and operated Composition Gallery, a fine art photography gallery in Atlanta, Georgia. Selected Best New Gallery in Atlanta in 2006, Composition quickly developed a reputation for showcasing compelling and important photography from the region's and the nation's top emerging photographic artists.

Returning to his roots in the written word, and realizing that visual artists often need assistance with the verbal presentation of their work, Ron has launched The Artist's Editor, an editing and rewrite service especially for artists.


Sylvia Sanders Kelley

Best in Show

Sylvia Sanders Kelley attended Vanderbilt University, graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1954 with a BA in history. Selected as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, she next received a MA degree from the University of Texas. Then, selected as a Rockefeller Fellow, she studied at the Divinity School of Yale University. Ms. Kelley is recognized as a pioneer in the advancement and encouragement of the rights of women. In 1974 she founded the Antoinette Brown Lecture Series at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. This lecture series, which focuses on religious faith, equality, and leadership from a feminist perspective, is the longest continuing lecture program of its kind in the United States. Ms. Kelley also served as a founding member of the National Leadership Committee of the Program for Women’s Studies in Religion at Harvard Divinity School. Recently Ms. Kelley was recognized by Georgia State University as one of the pioneering leaders in support of the Equal Rights Amendment to the American Constitution. Ms. Kelley now serves as a charter member of the Arts Advisory Council at Georgia Tech.

Heston McCranie

Music/Performing Arts

Heston McCranie is a cellist and music educator originally from West Palm Beach, Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Colorado State University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Florida in cello performance. Currently she is working towards a Ph.D. from Georgia State University in Music Education. Heston is passionate about string education in the public school system and has spent several years directing orchestra and teaching young string players. In addition to teaching, she has performed extensively as a cellist in regional orchestras and chamber ensembles in Colorado, Wyoming, Florida, and Georgia. When not making music, Heston enjoys spending time outdoors with her dog, Lolly.


Phillip Mosier


Mosier has been engaged in a documentary project in the traditionally Middle Class neighborhoods of Atlanta, Georgia for more than twenty years. He received training in journalism at Texas Christian University and in photography at Yale University.

In 2007 he was awarded a Society for Industrial Archeology, Industrial Preservation Grant to document the Bellwood Quarry.

His photographic works are archived in the permanent collections of the Atlanta History Center; Atlanta, Georgia, Atlanta Housing Authority; Atlanta, Georgia, Archive of the Georgia Folk Life Program; Atlanta, Georgia, Fay Gold Gallery; Atlanta, Georgia, United States Library of Congress; Historic American Building Survey Washington, D.C., Morris Museum of Art; Augusta, Georgia, High Museum of Art; Atlanta, Georgia, and Mobile Museum of Art; Mobile, Alabama.

Sarah Shipman

Film/Graphic Art/Code-based Art

Sarah Shipman is an emerging video, performance and multimedia artist living in Atlanta, GA. Working with a variety of media and techniques, she explores themes related to the body, lived and imagined experience, and transpersonal psychology. Born in central Florida, Shipman landed in suburban Georgia during her childhood.

She studied at Columbus State University (Columbus, GA) for two years before relocating to Atlanta and completing a BFA at Georgia State University and an MFA at Savannah College of Art & Design. Shipman is a recipient of the Marion Bowen Davis Scholarship and is a Hambidge Fellow.

Megan Volpert

Poetry/Prose/Spoken Word

Megan Volpert is a poet and critic from Chicago who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. She has been teaching high school English for the better part of a decade and served as her school's Teacher of the Yera for 2014.

This assignment is so gay: LGBTIQ Poets on the Art of Teaching (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013), is her first work as an editor. It has been honored by The American Library Association and is currently a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Volpert is the author of five books, the most recent collection of her own work being Only Ride (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014).

The other four books are Sonics in Warholia (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011), The Desense of Nonfense and Face Blindness (BlazeVOX Books, 2009 & 2007), and Domestic Transmission (MetroMania Press, 2007).

She is currently researching rhetorics of independence during the American Bicentennial, and collaborating with performance artist Craig Gingrich-Philbrook on a project about the nature of failure. Volpert has been in competition at the National Poetry Slam and is a board member of Poetry Atlanta. Predictably, www.meganvolpert.com is her website.