Fine Arts Faculty Practice What They Teach

An acrylic painting by Heath Montgomery '99 titled "A World's Durability" won the Juried Member Show at the Association for Visual Arts (AVA) this past summer.

Baylor students not only have an expansive selection of more than 40 courses taught by people who are experts in their fields, many of the instructors continue to showcase their works in local and regional exhibits, perform and direct in community theater, and contribute to the landscape of Chattanooga's vibrant arts community.

"Actively engaging in the arts beyond Baylor’s campus keeps our faculty informed of the latest trends, newest research, and innovative practices in their disciplines, said Vincent Oakes, Baylor's choir director and chair of the fine arts department. "Moreover, it allows these teaching artists to bring those remarkable experiences – new techniques, sources of inspiration and influence, and ways to showcase their work - into the classroom in impactful and invaluable ways."

Here are some recent examples of Baylor fine arts faculty who practice what they teach!

Margaret Harman '14, dance instructor, was selected as a company member of The Pop-Up Project's performance of Romeo y Julieta on Sept. 18 and Sept. 25.  The non-profit Pop-Up Project’s vision is to create a vibrant, diverse, sustainable performing arts community in Chattanooga.

Allison Lamb, theater director, served as assistant director for a production of Rock of Ages this past summer for the Actors’ Theater of Charlotte in the professional theater company’s first return to live theater in over a year-and-a-half.


Studio art instructor Heath Montgomery '99 is one of ten local artists featured in an art exhibit that has landed at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport called, "Into the Blue: Abstraction in the Airport.” Heath’s work, titled "Telekinetic Skybits," consists of security envelopes and acrylic paint and references how our data is "up in the air." The show was curated by CHA ART SPACE and will be on display on the first floor of the Chattanooga Airport through December.

Vincent Oakes, choir director and fine arts department chair (pictured above directing an honor choir in Orlando), authored a chapter on working with the adolescent singing voice in the forthcoming textbook Class Voice: Fundamental Skills for Lifelong Singing, by Brenda Smith and Ron Burrichter (Plural Publishing, 2022).  In 2021-2022, he will conduct honor and festival choirs in Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin.  He has served as the artistic director for the Chattanooga Boys Choir since 2003. 

Mary Lynn Portera has served as a studio arts instructor for 25 years.  Her clay pieces (pictured above is a piece titled "Let the Fireworks Begin!") were featured throughout September at Wanderlinger Brewing Company, which provides a space for local artists to share their work. More of Portera’s work can be found at the River Gallery in the Bluff View Art District. 


Keelah Jackson was an artist-in-residence at Baylor in 2020-21, and now serves as a community service assistant and Middle School Learning Center instructor -- she is also an award-winning educator, writer, singer/songwriter, and visual artist. 

Jackson is co-owner and curator of Keeody Gallery, and recently curated the Visuals for the Voiceless art exhibit as part of the city-wide Ed Johnson Memorial dedication on Sept. 18.  Funded by ArtsBuild, the event encompassed history, art, storytelling and remembrance.  Jackson's art was also featured in the exhibit. (You can learn more about the Keeody Gallery here.)

She was also one of nine artists who were selected to create panels for a 12x17 mural titled “The Soul of MLK—How Artists Visualize the Heartbeat and Soul of MLK in Arts, Music and Culture."  The huge mural on the corner of East 10th Street and Foster Street was created to highlight the history, heritage, and significance of the MLK area and was completed as part of the city's Juneteenth 2021 commemoration.  Jackson's mural is titled “Dr. King’s 9th Street Reverie.” 

“Dr. King’s 9th Street Reverie” mural created by Keelah Jackson-Harris can be seen on the corner of East 10th and Foster Street.



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