Celebrating the talented artists of North Georgia

Written By: Judy Garrison

There’s no better expression of oneself than the creation of … something. A spirited story of memories. A metal bracelet forged by fire. A hand-woven basket of sweetgrass. A black and white photograph cementing time. A wooden bread bowl dented by decades of wear. And, when one finds a community of like-minded artists, the world becomes smaller.
North Georgia Arts Guild is such a community where artists—and those who recognize their proficiency—come together in promotion of all mediums. Within its structure, the members unite for a three-fold purpose: joining artists, promoting artists, and providing opportunities. Although there is no physical storefront, the members merge in art shows, field trips and area markets to share their work. Serving as president, Randy Sells works with over 100 members who support the mission of showcasing arts in North Georgia, like the Sassafras Artisan Market in April in Clayton.“Supporting our artists will ensure the rich tradition of arts and crafts continues for future generations,” he said.
In that spirit, seek out these four acclaimed local artists and allow their stories and works to inspire.  

Shiny and New | Jewelry
Judie Raiford’s prelude into jewelry was in the late 1960s when she realized “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll was not a career choice.” However, it wasn’t the final shiny product but its construction that pushed her passion. 
“My passion isn’t for jewelry; it’s for the process, the tools, the physics, the chemistry and every once in a while, reinventing the wheel,” she said. “In any field, you’d better love the process more than the finished product because that’s where your time is spent.    
“My work is required to not only look good and reflect the wearers’ mood and sense of style but also to survive the abuse of everyday living. Every doorknob is harder than a gold and silver ring; a necklace has to hold up to an infant’s grabbing hands or a puppy scrambling for a kiss—and on and on.”
In 1996, Raiford opened her own gallery in Roswell where work of more than 200 artists can be found. She works in her studio—alongside her dogs Nelly Grace and Louise—producing items as well as working with clients on specific projects.
“Jewelry is the most intimate art form,” Raiford said. “It touches the skin. It’s traditionally used as a symbol of life events, status, promise, coupling, and when inherited, it brings you closer to memories of the person who left it to you.”
To learn more about the gallery and Raiford’s work, visit raifordgallery.com or stop by the gallery at 1159 Canton St. in Roswell.  

Visually Appealing | Photography
No stranger to creating something from nothing, writer-turned-photographer Anna DeStefano from Clarkesville now reaches to nature for inspiration. Through Affirmation Photography “my work is a journey to reflect hope and inspiration,” DeStefano explained, “and to offer escape from stress and anxiety. My vision for creating healing art is inspired by the North Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee mountains I love.
”Not only is her medium healing for herself but also for others. “I work with art consultants to place healing photography into hospital systems,” she said. “Whether we’re curating a collection of smaller floral prints for exam rooms, larger landscapes for a conference space, or wall-sized, art-processed images of cheerful, colorful leaves for imaging center corridors, I won’t stop searching my catalogue until I have just the right photograph for the need.”
Affirmation Photography rekindles the walls of Emory Healthcare system in Atlanta and will soon be placed in Gainesville’s Northeast Georgia Health System space. DeStefano’s work can also be found in fine art galleries and retail spaces including Timpson Creek Gallery and Butler Gallery in Clayton and Hemlock Studio Gallery in Clarkesville.“
Art is where the soul thrives,” she continues. “Whether you’re creating it or viewing it or finding yourself inspired by it … art offers us a place to share deeper gifts and needs and dreams. It’s a never-ending conversation about who we are, where we’ve been, and how we tackle whatever awaits us next.”
To learn more about DeStefano’s work, visit affirmationphotography.com.  

See-Thru | Glass
For Kimberley Adams of Transformation Glass in Tiger, it has been a love-affair for 33 years.Working with kiln-formed glass and lampwork glass beads and jewelry, Adams finds the beauty deep within the layers.
“I want the wearer [of glass bead jewelry] to see beauty and delight in each bead and each finished piece,” she said. “Each bead has so much to discover even though the piece of art is very small.” For her kiln-formed glass, the design and craftmanship is important. “I want the observer to see color, pattern and form that is pleasing to the eye. In the case of functional work, I want it to feel comfortable and substantial in the hand.” With her powder-printed glass, she evokes memory and peacefulness.Bringing a connection to the world is what art delivers, much like the beauty and familiarity that her work showcases. 
To learn more about Transformation Glass, visit transformationglass.com

Kim Adams

A Lesson in Light | Painter
For painter Keith Burgess from Hiawassee, it has been 30 years of “nature and the study of light.”
His preferred medium is oil on canvas, and “Morning Pond” is one he considers to be one of his best works.
“I am inspired by early impressionist painters, mainly Monet,” he said. I am honored to carry on the tradition of painting outdoors, ‘en plein aire,’ French for ‘in the open air.’ Painting directly from nature is a kind of spiritual act for me and a kind of meditation.”
As with most creatives, the process as well as the work creates a refuge. “I believe the role of art is to offer beauty and peace in today’s world and offer a kind of refuge from the mundane. When I am alone with my work, I find peace and tranquility.”
To view more of Burgess’s work, visit keithburgessart.com.

Morning Pond by Keith Burgess


More From This Category



Spotlights on all things North Georgia, from interesting people to fascinating places and then some.

Vines & Hops

North Georgia's best wineries, breweries and distilleries.

Georgia Made

Your shopping guide for all things made in Georgia.

Food For Thought

North Georgia's best restaurants.

Home & Garden

Inspiration and ideas for your home and garden.


Where to go and what to see in and out of Georgia.


New and noteworthy in North Georgia.


Pin It on Pinterest