Graduate’s Book Reviewed in Magazine

March 4, 2004

Donia Eley’s book Willard Gayheart, Appalachian Artist which, she wrote with the artist, was reviewed in the January/February 2004 issue of Blue Ridge Traditions. The bi-monthly magazine features history and tales of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a regular column entitled “The Blue Lady Book Review.”

Gayheart, Appalachian pencil artist, grew up in eastern Kentucky. After a dedicated high school teacher encouraged him, Gayheart left his small town and attended Berea College. Fresh out of “the hollow” Gayheart kept his background hidden until another supportive professor influenced him to be himself. From then on he worked hard to celebrate his roots. Today he lives in Carroll County, Virginia, is a member of a bluegrass band, and is one of the most celebrated Appalachian pencil artists in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Eley, from Pulaski and the mother of two sons, graduated from Mary Baldwin University in 2002 with a unique independent major. She considered majoring in art with an emphasis on interior design, after the encouragement of her advisor, Ann Alexander, professor of history, Eley decided to follow a dream and developed her independent Appalachian studies major. She completed her major by taking courses at both Mary Baldwin and Radford University.

Eley recently reviewed John O’Brien’s At Home in the Heart of Appalachia for ALCA Lines, a publication of the Assembly on the Literature and Culture of Appalachia, and for Stitches, the newsletter of the Appalachian Teachers’ Network. She was asked to write an article for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Appalachia on Adriana Trigiani, the best-selling author of several novels.

Eley has worked as a volunteer with Appalachian Arts and Studies in the Schools and has been a participant in the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Collaborative Research and Teaching Project.

Eley is also a volunteer in her hometown of Pulaski. She raises money for the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and the March of Dimes; served on the Town Beautification Committee, the board of the New River Fine Arts Center, the Friends of the Pulaski Theater; and is part of Downtown Pulaski, a group committed to enhancing the downtown area.

To read the review of Eley’s book, go to the Blue Ridge Traditions Web site .