Mountains inspiration for artistic soul

Around this time last year, Abigail Taylor was celebrating graduating from Western Carolina University with Motion Picture degree and a ton of memories.

She returned to her hometown of Hickory and realized that something had changed since she left for college for the first time. What had once been a boring town to her had become the ideal place to call home.

“I just felt like I wanted to be somewhere else,” Abigail explained. “But the more I live in western North Carolina, the more I just try to be a part of it. Western really helped, because of the appreciation that Western has for mountain heritage and where it is.”

With a new found passion for life in the mountains and a desire to stay close to family, Abigail was ready to nestle into Hickory. The only problem was Hickory isn’t a great market when it comes to film production.

It is an issue that so many college students run into upon graduating — finding a place that has the job you are looking for.

Abigail’s approach to the situation, however, was far from the gloom and doom that some others fall into.

“Once I decided that I was going to stay here, I tried to look at it as… there’s not really any film production stuff going on here, but I could create it here,” she said.

And boy, did she create.

This acrylic painting of Shakespeare links back to Abigail's performing days in musical theatre.

This acrylic painting of Shakespeare links back to Abigail’s performing days in musical theatre.
Photo by Ryan Keys

Without a full-time job tying her down, Abigail took some art classes, hoping that some of the hobby she began in high school could translate over to her professional craft.

She also returned to her roots of singing, incorporating the folk style of traditional mountain music. She needed a partner to work with, so she called up Jordan Gibbs, an old friend from elementary school who is quite skilled at playing guitar.

Together, the two formed a band called The Quick Walkers. The duo now plays at local venues, and even spent a little time in an Asheville recording studio.

Not long after, Abigail found her job. She is currently employed by Jackson Group Interactive in Hickory as an Assistant Project Manager. It allows her to hone the film skills she learned at Western. It also may be a way for her to accomplish one of her bigger goals.

“Hickory is trying to grow in a lot of different ways,” she said. ” I feel like if I’m a big part, maybe on the more artistic side or commercial side, a big part of helping my town grow, then I think that’d be awesome.”

Each of the activities are dear to Abigail, and there are others as well, including acting and musical theater. There is a piece of her in every piece she makes, regardless of the media she chooses.

Abigail's banjo, given to her by Jordan Gibbs, is on of her prized possessions.  It is also one of the skills she is developing now.

Abigail’s banjo, given to her by Jordan Gibbs, is on of her prized possessions. It is also one of the skills she is developing now.
Photo by Ryan Keys

“We were born to create, so I feel like creating is just good for your life, good for yourself, and good for other people.”

Some may consider her vast artistic ability as a gift, but Abigail does not believe that art is meant to be exclusive.

“I feel like anybody can do it,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people say ‘well, I’m not artistic, I can’t do that,’ but anybody can make a piece of art… I think anyone can create.”

As for her, it is quite possible that she may add more methods to her list of ways to create, as she is always looking for something new to try.

So long as she is finding inspiration from the traditions of the mountains, her newest pieces will undoubtedly be enjoyed by those in both her hometown and her university.