By Bonnie Medford
Embracing the Unique
Local sculptor Betsy Khuri often draws inspiration from old pictures, found objects, her three children, and her two “bonus kids.” She says her children are her biggest accomplishment. Khuri’s current projects are inspired by the Renaissance. The pieces have the head of an animal and a human body — feminine bodies contrasting with masculine animal features.
Khuri says that for most of her life, she thought that there was something wrong with her. Her thought patterns and visions were different from her peers. As a child, Khuri was taught that art was a hobby and not a career, so she earned an MBA and worked in the computer industry. She says, “Growing up in a family that alphabetizes their spices and always has their shoes tied wasn’t easy.” Now, she is grateful for her unique ideas, her gifts, and for simply being herself. She also seeks to encourage similar individuals.
Khuri has always been creative. One of her favorite childhood memories is of creating art in elementary school. She made a linoleum print that she then carved into the shape of a sun entitled Sunshine. The artist says she can still remember the joy it gave her. Now, she feels that liberating joy every day.
When her children were little, Khuri created works from clay on a potter’s wheel but was ultimately disappointed when there was little variation. After all, “Everything was round!” By changing shapes and adding sculptures, she realized that there was another path she needed to follow, leading her to where she is now. She took a few classes in figurative sculpture but is primarily a self-taught artist. Some of her first sculptures were created when she worked with Debra Fritts, who is now working in Abiquiu, NM.
Since then, Khuri has been making sculptures and teaching for about 15 years. She started with children’s classes. She says, “I can easily relate to children because of my own short attention span, unfiltered spirit, and unwillingness to follow the rules. Teaching adults is more of a challenge. As we age, we let go of all those things that help make great art.” Her advice to other artists is to create your truth, keep working, be proud, and find your people.
In addition to her business, Betsy Oh Art, Khuri’s accomplishments include:
Published piece, 500 Figurative Sculptures (2014)
Best in Show, Canton Festival of the Arts (2015)
Best in Show, Roswell Art Center West (2015)
Third Place, Canton Festival of the Arts (2018)
Khuri and her apprentices are also involved in the City of Woodstock’s “Free Art Friday.” On Fridays, they post a photo of a piece of art hidden in downtown Woodstock along with clues to its location. Whoever finds the location posts a photo of themselves and their free art using #FAFWoodstockGA on Instagram.