Florence Thomas Art School was founded in 2007, upon the death of Ashe County native Florence Thomas. Born in 1909, Florence Young Thomas painted scenes of the life all around her. Her art is characterized by softness and light, allowing the viewer to enter a scene uncluttered by excessive detail. She captured the soul and the mystery, and ultimately the comfort, of common things-farm animals, flowers, landscapes-found around her rural Appalachian home. A gallery of her works is open year-round.
The mission of Florence Thomas Art School is to provide resources for instruction, exhibition, and experience in the fine arts and heritage crafts for Ashe County and the region. This mission is supported by year-round fine arts education. Workshops are offered with a focus on preserving the cultural heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains through offering workshops and demonstrations in the heritage crafts. Outreach programs engage underserved youth and adults, and exhibition spaces provide outlets for local artists and craftsmen. The school seeks to promote the legacy of Florence Thomas while Fostering an environment for creative thought and artistic expression.
The Art School is located in the historic arts district of downtown West Jefferson. Visitors are welcome to walk the grounds during daylight hours, visit the gallery, and enjoy the rich cultural heritage of the area. Just look for the charming 40-foot mural Birds at Work by local artist Joni Ray. A complete list of workshops, gallery exhibits, and other news can be found on the school’s website.