Sassa Wilkes

Sassa Wilkes is a trans artist working to challenge and expand the cultural understanding of gender in Appalachia. He uses art as a language to connect, communicate, and learn with others. Sassa holds a bachelors degree in Fine Arts as well as a Masters degree in Teaching from Marshall University, and has over ten years of teaching experience. He recently served as the first visual artist-in-residence at West Edge Factory in Huntington, West Virginia. You can see more of Sassa’s work at

Barb Lavalley Benton

Barb Lavalley Benton is a dedicated professional visual artist, author, and educator. She earned a BA in Art & Design and a minor in Psychology from Marshall University (2022). She uses mixed media and clay in her personal work that represents emotional states through representation, abstraction, and symbolism. Her works, Rachel – A Life Lived and Just Keep Living, were juried by Jason Franz into the 2022 National Juried Exhibition at Marshall University. She wrote Nothing is Ever Lost, a children’s book for grieving families as part of her healing process. She co-created murals and leads community workshops at West Edge Factory in Huntington, WV. She was selected as a Teaching Artist for a CALL art workshops at the Ceredo Senior Wellness Center in Kenova, WV. View her personal webpage from the 2022 invitational group exhibition, Conceptions of Flight.

Amy Pabst

Amy Pabst grew up in rural West Virginia at the intersection of a ‘holler’ and a dirt road. Her mother and grandmother taught her to sew at an early age, but she didn’t start quilting until 2011 when she randomly picked up a book about quilting from her local library. Within months she had made over a dozen quilts, and she hasn’t slowed down since. Amy is a teacher, speaker, and judge (National Association of Certified Quilt Judges) and is active in several guilds, both locally and internationally. Her first book, Log Cabin: The 100,000 Pieces Project, was published by Quiltmania in 2020. She is a full-time student in the fibers program at Marshall University, and in her free time she enjoys hiking in the beautiful woods of West Virginia.

Lesley Wang

Hello, I’m Lesley and I am a West Virginia based artist in creating art with a variety of mediums such as oil, acrylic, pencil, pastel, alcohol inks, wax and digital.  I started my lifelong pursuit of art at age 3 in Qingdao, China.  I completed my bachelor’s degree from the Shandong University of Art & Design.  At University I studied design and graphical arts winning several awards including the Hisense Cup creative design challenge as well as the Best Advertising Design award.  

After competing my bachelor’s degree I attended Valparaiso University to expand my skills in digital media and acrylics while completing my Masters Degree in Art.  This education and experience inspired me to expand my capabilities, allowing me to create and design a variety of art, products and media.  

I continue to work with a variety of mediums to capture the moment that is special to us in a way that inspires joy and reflection. My goal is to creatively take those moments and help others appreciate the beauty that is in our world.