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Thriving Arts Uniting Us: Columbia Art League Moves to Highlight Member Art

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The Columbia Art League is a staple of the mid-Missouri community. For 60 years, staff, volunteers and art lovers have made sure there are beautiful pieces of art and happy artists ages 5 to 105 by providing art education, exhibit space and professional development.

Kelsey Hammond, the executive director, found herself in this position by chance. “I’ve lived in Columbia for about 13 years but hadn’t worked much with the Columbia Art League except visiting the exhibits. But when someone mentioned they were starting to look for executive director candidates, I was interested,” Kelsey shared. 

Kelsey has a rich history in the arts and comes from a family of artists. With a father and aunt who loved to paint and a mother who was a singer and musician, it was only a matter of time before Kelsey found her niche.

“I studied art history thinking that I would work in a museum, particularly with the education programming, but eventually I earned my MFA in fine art photography because making photographs has always been my favorite pursuit.”

As the executive director of the Columbia Art League, Kelsey has experienced some very interesting opportunities. One memorable moment was talking with a detective about a cache of artwork found in a hideaway during a raid!

In 2020, the Columbia Art League is switching things up so that some artists can have more opportunities and exposure. One change is to move the Gift Gallery front and center to sell members’ artwork and create a small gallery for featured artists.

“If you have a thriving arts scene in your community, then you have dialog between people,” Kelsey affirmed. “You get a greater understanding about your neighbor, community, city, state, world through art. It truly is the thing that unites us.”