GumTree Museum of Art names new director

Thomas Wells

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The vacancy of the executive director position at the GumTree Museum of Art has now been filled.

Belle Naugher, of Amory, replaces outgoing director Laura Ashley, who left the museum in June.

Naugher, who started work on Thursday, said she’s just trying to get in and settled, for now.

“My first piece of artwork that was ever displayed on a museum wall was actually here,” said Naugher. “Fast-forward to today, and here we are.”

A Mississippi State University graduate, Naugher has her Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting. She moved to Denver in 2008, but a freak accident at work brought her back to Mississippi.

“It was an injury on the job,” she said. “A misdiagnosis from the doctor brought me back to Amory to lean on the support of my parents.”

While recovering from multiple surgeries, Naugher opened her art shop, Missihippie Studio, off Main Street in Amory.

“I worked on resurrecting the arts council there that had been dormant since ’79,” she said. “From working in civic groups to putting on art camps for children over the past few years and having different art functions, I’ve kept busy. I was looking for the next logical career move.”

Naugher said she was interested in the museum business and a chance to put her degree to work.

“I’m really excited about maybe bringing some of these children’s workshops that I was doing in Amory to the museum, as well as some other ideas for new things that I want to bring to town,” she said.

Living in 10 different cities in Mississippi, Naugher said that Tupelo was always the center, and she always gravitated toward it.

“I’m excited about the buzz and how much is going on here,” she said. “It’s nice to be back in a young-feeling town with people that are vibrant. I’ve enjoyed meeting artists and contacts here so far. I’m looking forward to getting to know more artists of the area.”

Twitter: @wderekrussell

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