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Art School Instructors

Amy Horton Ballard

Youth Art Instructor

Amy Ballard is a native of the Spartanburg area, where her creativity was able to grow through involvement with Ballet Spartanburg and art enrichment programs offered through Spartanburg Co. School District 2.  While at Wofford College, she received the opportunity to study oil painting under Isabel Forbes through the Whetsell Fellowship. She enjoys doing a variety of creative projects but loves working with watercolors and acrylic paints the most. Sharing her love for creating with others brings her great joy!

a charcoal drawing of a man with a white beard and large hat

Brian Bateman


Bio coming soon..

Instructor Moody Black, an African-American man wearing a white shirt, grey cap, and beard, makes a silly face with a group of students.

Moody Black

Poetry | Performance

mOody bLaCK is a TEDx performer, a  National Award-Winning Poet and Host, a Smart Arts Teaching Artist,   Motivational Speaker, Spoken-Word and Visual Artist, Actor/Voice Over  Artist, Chess Instructor, Story Teller, and Comedian from Spartanburg,  S.C. 

Now, residing in Greenville, S.C.
mOody bLaCk is passionate  about teaching poetry to the youth and adults, and speaking about  purpose and challenging depression.  Each time mOody is on the stage, he  aims to uplift everyone in the audience.

Christina Dixon, a white woman with long blonde hair in a braid, wearing glasses and a dark jacket with the Furman University logo, leans over a potter's wheel, carefully shaping a lump of clay into a vessel.

Christina Dixon

Ceramics Studio Manager | Ceramics

Christina was born and raised  in Nashville, Tennessee, where creativity can be found everywhere and  anywhere. She caught the art bug early, for which she credits her  mother, a former art dealer. She studied art at Furman University,  concentrating in graphic design and ceramics, and graduating in 2015.  While at school, her professor introduced her to horsehair raku, which  is still her favorite firing technique.

Following graduation, Christina  joined the West Main Artists Co-op (now the Artists Collective | Spartanburg) in the fall of 2015. Since then, her work has been shown in galleries in South Carolina, Georgia, and at  local art fairs. Christina has been the Ceramics Studio Manager here at  SAM since the late fall of 2017 and teaching for SAM beginning the  summer of 2018.

Gary Huntoon, a white man with a white mustache and glasses, wears a blue sweatshirt and denim apron in SAM's ceramic studio. Drying pottery can be seen out-of-focus in the foreground. Shelves of ceramics supplies can be seen in the background, next to the window.

In Memoriam: Gary Huntoon


Gary Huntoon started working with clay in California in 1962 while attending UCLA. Gary worked both in hand-building and wheel thrown techniques, although his preference was hand-building. He taught Ceramics & 3D Art at Parish Episcopal Day School, and was an instructor for High School & Middle School. He also taught Continuing Ed Ceramic classes at Richland Junior College, and workshops throughout the State of Texas, particularly at the Hill Country Arts Foundation in Ingram. He also taught at the Museum School in Houston and Collin Community College in Plano. Later in life, he relocated to Travelers Rest, SC and taught ceramics at Spartanburg Art Museum from 2014 until his passing in 2022. 

Gary was much beloved by his students and SAM staff alike, and his talent, passion, and sense of humor is sorely missed.

Katherine Rausch at work!

Katherine Rausch


Katherine earned her BFA in Advertising Design at Kendall School in 1982. She worked as an

advertiser in Germany for two years. She returned to school in 2009 to Converse College where

she completed 33 hours of collective studies in: Studio Art, Art Therapy, Art Ed, Theatre. Since

then, she has spent her time working in the Theatre as a stage manager, prop master and

scenic painter.

Katherine has taught middle school art. She is currently giving private lessons and painting

commissioned pet portraits. She has painted over 400 portraits of dogs and cats. She is working

on a solo show for this year, a figurative exploration of women’s rights.

“I find my happiness in watching others find theirs”. Teaching painting classes has opened up

my heart. The paint your pet nights are the very best. One student explained it like this “it’s like

being able to pet my dog one last time with each brush stroke”. I learn so much about myself

with each class I teach. It is also wonderful watching other people learn something about

themselves as they watch their pet emerge on their canvas.

Heather Green

Clay and Oil Paints

Heather Green is an artist and teacher in upstate South Carolina. She works primarily with clay and oil paints, but uses her content knowledge as a multimedia art teacher to inform her practice. She earned her Master of Education in Art Education from Converse University in May of 2023. Heather earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from Winthrop University in May of 2020. For the past several years, Heather has taught AP Art and Design, Painting 1 and 2, and Ceramics 1 and 2 in a public high school. She truly enjoys seeing the moment that her students understand what she is teaching and prides herself on building classroom community.

A close-up of artist Kara Bender's hands as she draws abstract green shapes on a piece of paper.

Kara Bender


Kara Bender received her BFA in 2008 from the University of North  Carolina, Asheville, and her MFA in Visual Arts from Western Carolina  University, Cullowhee, North Carolina. Bender's work has been shown in  the United States and has been scheduled to show abroad. Most recently,  Bender exhibited her work at the Artist for Artists Project Gallery as a  Williams Prize Finalist in Simsbury, Connecticut (2014), was included  in the juried exhibition entitled "A Fine Line: Contemporary Drawing  Exhibtion" at the Claypool-Young Gallery in Morehead, Kentucky (2013),  and was featured in a solo exhibtion in Chapel Hill (North Carolina)  Juried Exhibitions Series (2013). Her work focuses on issues concerning  ethonography and social justice.

A close-up of an ornate green ceramics pitcher

Austin Burns


Bio coming soon..

Mary Harris, an African-American woman wearing a blue patterned shirt and dark apron, assists a young female student with her project in SAM's art studio. The table is covered in bottles of paint, paper, brushes, paintings, and other art supplies for kids.

Mary Harris

Youth Art Instructor

Mary Harris is a Spartanburg native and prolific artist, who has exhibited her artwork since the age of 5. She has created numerous public art and murals throughout town, including the animal mural hanging at the entrance of Spartanburg Science Center. 

Mary is beloved by Art School and COLORs Youth Outreach students alike, and continues to share her passion for art with children of all ages with every new class she teaches at SAM.

Diarmuid Kelly, a white man with dark hair wearing a grey shirt, smiles as he dusts off his large painting of a man with bright red hair and beard wearing a green hoodie.

Diarmuid Kelly


Diarmuid Kelly is a photorealistic oil painter who moved with his family  from Ireland to the United States in 2008. He is a self-taught artist  and has been painting professionally since 1997. Diarmuid has received  national and international recognition for his realistic animal  paintings. His work can be seen in many prestigious homes of art  collectors in Ireland, England, Wales, Australia and the United States.  He has had several successful solo and group shows in Greenville,  Spartanburg, and Union Counties since moving to the United States. He  was included in the publication Artists Among Us - 100 faces of Artists  living and working in Spartanburg.

Three handmade books, one small, one medium, and one large, stand with their covers and pages open on a countertop surface. A pencil lays in the lower right corner of the image.

Bill Barrick

Calligraphy | Book Arts | Drawing

A  graphic designer and teacher by trade, Bill has also worked as an  architectural draftsman, technical illustrator and photographer in  manufacturing and owned an advertising & design business for 13  years. He has taught graphic design and drawing and at both the high  school and college levels and was the Department Coordinator of Graphics  at Vincennes University (Indiana). His last position before retiring in  2016 was Print Shop Coordinator / Vocational Instructor at a private  school for at-risk youth in Indiana.

Bill has always been infatuated  with the book arts of the Renaissance—paper making, calligraphy,  letterpress printing and book binding. He does professional book binding  and calligraphy and has conducted dozens of workshops and classes in  the book arts for the past 25 years. Bill travels to Italy regularly to  hone his skills and sketch the sights.

Bill has a Bachelors degree in Graphic Arts Vocational Education and a Masters Degree in Education from Purdue University.

An arrangement of several black-and-white photographs with gold leafing lay on a tabletop. From left to right: daisies, an antique photo of a bride and groom, an abstract image, and another antique photo of two women, one in a white dress and one in a dark dress.

Joann Benzinger


Joann Benzinger uses  photography as a means of expression. She began with film and her  journey has led her to include digital and alternative methods. Her work  has roots in more traditional media but has expanded to include unusual  print surfaces such as aluminum cans and image transfers to wood. She  participates in group and solo shows and is a founding member of the  White Rabbit Gallery in Travelers Rest.


Joann earned her Associate of  Arts from Wisconsin Lutheran College and studied Visual Arts with an  emphasis in photography at Greenville Technical College.

Kathleen Digney, a white woman with short grey hair, wears a pink shirt and hair scarf as she draws a pencil portrait of Brianna, an African-American woman, in the Museum. There are people milling in the background as she works.

Kathleen Digney

Painting | Drawing

Kathleen has over thirty years  experience working as a professional artist and possesses a broad range  of skills. She earned a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a  focus in medical illustration and portrait painting. Her experience as a  medical illustrator includes working for a large medical center in  Cleveland, Ohio and as a freelancer for publishing companies, medical  magazines and medical legal firms. Gradually her focus changed to  creating commissioned portrait paintings and teaching and it is this  work that she continues today.​

Kathleen relocated to the  Greenville area in 2011 and has been with SAM since 2013. She has taught  privately through her own studio, art centers, a community college, as  well as gifted high school and museum programs.

Cecilia Ho, a Chinese woman, smiles at her daughter as they set up a felting booth in the Museum. A felted portrait of a tiger sits on a easel next to them, along with other felting supplies and a sign with Cecilia's name on it. An art installation of small black-and-yellow circles can be seen in the background.

Cecilia Ho

Fiber Arts

Cecilia Ho was born into a family of designers in Hong Kong but was  first introduced to felting after moving to Nova Scotia, Canada in 2007.  It was the local and plentiful sheep farms that influenced her passion  and direction into felting and fiber arts. She has held felting  demonstrations and workshops at museums, galleries, craft festivals and  local businesses across the United States and Canada. Cecilia has taken  part in exhibitions, fashion shows and wool campaigns. 

FELTasticFashion  is the business created by Cecilia in 2011 which provides all-inclusive  felting DIY kits for beginners.

Cathie Layton, a white woman with short, curly white hair, wears a paint-stained denim apron as she works on a ceramic vessel.

Cathie Layton

Youth Ceramics Instructor

Cathie Layton is a graduate of Pfeifton College in North Carolina, holding BA's in Parks and Recreation, Physical Education and Health, and Art, studying at the graduate level at Savannah College of Art and Design and the University of South Carolina.

Cathie retired from secondary education with over 40 years of teaching experience. She has taught ceramics classes for Spartanburg Art Museum since 2006 in addition to owning her own studios—North Star Studios and Woman Warrior Designs—and enjoys sharing her love of clay and ancient designs with students of all ages.

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