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“I fell in love with Hambidge very soon after discovering it over 15 years ago,” artist and arts executive Ife Williams said.

Since then, Williams has left a major impact on Gwinnett as a past director of the Hudgens Center for Art and Learning in Duluth and through her work as a prominent working artist.

Now it is time for her to undertake another large role in furthering the arts in our region. On May 3, Williams will begin her role as Hambidge’s deputy director.

The Hambidge Center was created in 1934 by Mary Hambidge, establishing an enclave and sustainable farm in memory of her partner, Jay Hambidge. Located in the Appalachian foothills of Rabun Gap, the Hambidge was one of the first artist communities in the U.S.

Today it has become a haven for artists, providing a residency program that “empowers talented individuals to explore, develop, and express their creative voices.”

Williams’ role as deputy director will be focused on Hambidge’s residency program. She says, “I am sure my duties will evolve as the organization continues to grow, but one of my primary responsibilities will be providing leadership and support to the residency program that takes place here in Rabun Gap. I will be focused primarily on operations and programs.”

Hambidge Center Executive Director Jamie Badoud will retain his position as head of the organization, growing organizational vision and leading fundraising efforts.

One of Williams’ major roles will be developing programming for Hambidge’s Antinori Village which starts construction beginning in July. This expansion of Hambidge’s campus will provide more spaces and opportunities for artists who come from all over the United States. The project’s development is enhanced by a $1.45 million gift from Atlanta philanthropist Susan Antinori and the Antinori Foundation.

Williams is not yet acquainted with Rabun Gap, although she has enjoyed “a few short hikes and fallen in love with several waterfalls.”

“I do not plan to stay tucked away on the Hambidge property but am looking forward to getting to know the area,” Williams said. “I spent most of my youth in small, out of the way places, so I don’t feel I am going blindly into this setting.”

Williams’ children are also sharing the adventure of moving to a new community.

“My kids have been very supportive and understanding of the opportunity presented by our move to Hambidge,” she said. “They are wrapping up a very challenging school year, and I am focused on packing for the move.

“I like to believe that this position will pair nicely with the continued exploration of my own creative work. I will be in an environment that nurtures creativity in an organization that values a healthy work/life balance. My residency at Hambidge seven years ago was pivotal in developing the artwork I make today. I feel confident my new role at Hambidge will not prevent me from continuing to grow as an artist or administrator.”

For information about Hambidge, visit www.hambidge.org

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Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@ mindspring.com.


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