Powell’s exact words may not have rung loudly in Carol Ann Lawrence’s ears, but she knew them in her heart. And, it was Walt Disney who quipped:
If you can dream it, you can do it.
Disney has Mickey Mouse and his pals to prove his point, and Lawrence has her newly printed bachelor’s degree in fine arts (BFA) from Radford University in hand. While many people celebrated Cinco de Mayo on May 5, this 41-year-old full-time employee and mother of three teenagers participated in RU’s spring commencement, her proud family at her side.
“I am really proud of her,” says Nikki, her 19-year-old daughter. “I have tried to do some extra chores around the house, taking care of the dogs and cats and helping with the bills.” Nikki gives her mom money from her Li’l Caesars paycheck every two weeks. And she proudly adds that Li’l Caesars make affordable, excellent pizza.
Lawrence wanted to be an artist since she was a little girl. “In middle and high school, I aspired to be an art teacher,” she recalls. But she did not finish college, and responsibilities like marriage and three children took precedence.
She grew up in the New River Valley, and her passion for art never dimmed. “I did some pottery at a community college about 12 years ago,” she relates. “Then eight years ago, I took up stone carving, making bird baths and small things from locally gathered sandstone and limestone.” She sold some pieces at shows and craft fairs, but full-time work and family still demanded her all.
Holding tight to her dream, however, she entered Radford University’s fine arts program and returned to ceramics with a new enthusiasm. “She’s been going for four years,” Nikki relates. “Some times she would get stressed out with the school work, studio time, her full-time job and managing the family and think of letting it go, but she would not quit. She stuck with it all the way.”
Her son, Maxx, 17, concurs. “At some points, we all felt stressed out over Mom’s college studies and the time commitment, but she persevered to the end. I am proud of her, too.”
Another dream of Carol’s is to open a community art center where people can come to learn all the arts like photography, painting, pottery, piano, violin, singing and more. “I want it to be non-profit and grant-supported so anyone of any income level or no income can come and take lessons, polish skills long-forgotten and learn new ones,” she says. “There are so many talented people and college students in the New River Valley who are willing to share their knowledge and passions with others.” The decision at hand is whether to go on to graduate school for a master’s degree in fine art (MFA) or pursue the community idea.
Whichever way Carol decides, she has proven she has the determination and drive to follow and achieve her dreams and the artistic talent to be counted among the excellent artisans and craftspeople in the New River Valley.
Carol Ann Stoneworks on Facebook
Text by Joanne M. Anderson | Photos by Always and Forever Photography