Adams County Arts Council – Supporting the arts in Adams County, PA

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In the Artist Spotlight: Debbie Westmoreland

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by Karen Hendricks

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You could say that everything Debbie Westmoreland does, she does with style.

From fashioning Barbie doll clothes at the age of six, to working for a major New York department store, and curating historical exhibits—all of these experiences have put her on a path that recently brought her to Gettysburg where she now shares her creative gifts through the Adams County Arts Council (ACAC).

Detail, "Floral Abstract", wool and silk

Detail, “Floral Abstract”, wool and silk

By day, Westmoreland may be one of the friendly smiling faces visitors encounter when they enter the ACAC and are greeted by support staff. But Westmoreland is also part of the huge network of talented instructors who lead classes at the arts council. She has taught interior design classes for adults as well as fashion design classes for the children’s afterschool and summer programs. Additionally, her textile art has been featured in numerous ACAC exhibits. And she continues to learn and grow as an artist, by taking classes from other arts council instructors.

“I’ve always been interested in textiles, fashion and history,” the Gettysburg woman explains. “And my career path is an example of that… but being in this environment has given me the confidence to truly pursue being an artist (for the first time),” she explains.

Fiber art by Debbie Westmoreland

Fiber art by Debbie Westmoreland

It’s been a long, winding road for Westmoreland, who learned how to sew at a young age, from her mother and grandmothers as she grew up in the Reading area. “My Pennsylvania German heritage made me appreciate the importance of textiles,” she claims.

Even though her heart was in the fashion industry, her head steered her towards a more practical college major—design and merchandising—at Drexel University, Philadelphia. While working in retailing for Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, she realized she needed a creative outlet. So she decided to go back to school for her BFA in interior design from the New York School of Interior Design.

After working at several design firms in New York and New Jersey, Westmoreland again sought a more creative path—with a twist. “I realized I wanted to tie my love of history into my work.” She again headed back to school, studying at Seaton Hall, for her Master of Arts in Museum Professions.

This led to a position she describes as “one of the most creative experiences I’ve ever had”–Curator and Collections Manager for the Morris County Historical Society in New Jersey—a position she held for 13 years.

In 2011, when her husband reached retirement age, the couple decided to relocate to Gettysburg. “This area is a welcoming and nurturing setting for artists,” she explains. “It’s hard for me to create in a crowded, fast-paced environment, but Adams County is a comfortable environment, (more conducive to producing artwork).”

In addition to exhibiting her work periodically through members’ shows at the ACAC, her stylish fashions and textile artwork can both be found at A&A Village Treasures, Chambersburg Street, Gettysburg.

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“I feel as though I’m finally underway as an independent artist—it’s another step or chapter in my career,” she says. All achieved with her ever-evolving flair for style.

To contact Debbie Westmoreland: westmorelanddebbie (at) gmail.com

"Fantasy Turquoise," a wrap by Debbie Westmoreland

“Fantasy Turquoise,” a wrap by Debbie Westmoreland

 

Detail, "Fantasy Turquoise"

Detail, “Fantasy Turquoise”

 

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