• Habitat Staff

ReStore & After Featured Artist: Kylie Neal-Williams!

ReStore & After is just two days away! We are grateful for the hard work of talented local artists who donate their time and talent to the event. We recently caught up with Kylie Williams, an incredible artist who upcycled a FANTASTIC chair. Read about her efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle - and learn a little bit more about this talented local artist!

If you want to donate an item - there is still time! Just drop your item off at 6700 S. University Avenue or email us if we need to come pick it up - developmentdirector@habitatcentralar.org

And of course - you can get your tickets to ReStore & After HERE.

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A. I am the wife to the smartest, most handsome man I know, Dustin Williams. We are proud parents to a very smart 7-year-old whose birth was the catalyst for me to go back to school and find a degree that would allow me to have a more tactile approach to the arts. My husband and I had been living in Seattle prior to her arrival and I was in the art world working as a production assistant for Dale Chihuly. After several years with such a rewarding, hands-on job, I knew going back into the museum and/or business world was not for me at that point in my life. I had always had an interest in the furniture arts and knew that becoming a craftsman was an appealing and financially smart move. ASU provided me with a degree in Upholstery and Furniture Restoration and the rest is history. My family and I live in a quiet part of Saline County now where I can make my own hours, work by my introverted self in my private studio and create without outside interruption.

Q. Why did you want to get involved with Habitat for Humanity?

A. The ReStore has always been a treasure trove for me of vintage pieces that have seen better days and knowing the philosophy behind Habitat for Humanity has always been an added bonus. I love the idea that repurposing old furniture not only keeps it out of our landfills but it also gives money, time and resources back to our community. What's not to like?

Q. How did you choose the project you're working on?

A. I picked up this beautiful mid-century chair YEARS ago at the ReStore on University and it has been sitting in my stash forever, just waiting for the right project, fabric and person to take it home. I'm so excited to take it and find that perfect fabric, that perfect stain and restore it to all its former glory.

Q. What inspires you as an artist to create your work?

A. I earned my bachelors in History and Art History and had been involved in that world for several years until we moved to Seattle. After living there and being involved in such a large artistic community (not to mention being surrounded by some of the most amazing art and artists in modern times) I knew that i was not, nor could i ever aspire to be an artist. I dont identify as an artist- i lack the "this is something no one has ever done before!" gene. I am a craftsman - I can recreate or expand upon ideas, but as far as art goes, conception is not my strength. I love the fact that I can take a piece that someone else has created and restore it or expand on it and make it into something useful and beautiful. its also such a rush to see a finished piece that has been sitting in an attic for years, neglected but unable to use because "mom/grandma/great-grandma rocked 300 grandbabies in this until it fell apart." There's an emotional reconnection there that's a total high to me.

Q. How does recycling and repurposing fit into your life?

A. Sorry to bring it up again but - Seattle. There were laws and ordinances that were put in place in Washington to preserve the natural beauty that surrounded us. It's something I want to see recreated in our state as well. Arkansas is the Natural State. I fully believe and want to promote the philosophy in that. It was ingrained in me during our Seattle years and as a mother now, its something that has remained extremely important to me. I want to be able to leave my daughter and her children the kind of beautiful, natural and clean environment Ive been able to enjoy as an Arkansan.

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