Planned gift will benefit WVU College of Creative Arts students

Lotus MacDowellLotus MacDowell has been a staple in the North Central West Virginia art community for nearly four decades. Her legacy is now growing with a planned gift commitment in the West Virginia University School of Art & Design.

MacDowell’s gift will support a scholarship for painting students, with first preference given to students concentrating on realism.

“I think the average student struggles with having money to pay for what they need to do, whether it's buying supplies, whether it's paying their rent, whatever it is,” MacDowell said. “And a lot of times those factors can really weigh on their mind and they are not be able to exercise what they need to do as far as their own craft, without that hanging over their head.”

In her own work, MacDowell focuses on realism, so supporting students interested in the same work made sense to MacDowell.

“To me it seems like realism artists are fading out a bit because they might not be considered progressive enough in the art world,” MacDowell said. “But I know from my years of experience that there is a huge group of people who love and identify with realism. The world is big enough for all kinds of art, so I just decided this might be a way to encourage those interested in realism to pursue it.”

MacDowell received her degree in art at WVU in 1976 before completing three Artist in Residence positions through a state program which placed her in Harrison County, Preston County and Barbour County. After completing her residencies, MacDowell knew she needed a storefront to display her work. At the same time, a paint store with a framing department was closing its doors in downtown Clarksburg. MacDowell bought out their supplies and never looked back.

MacDowell has owned and managed Artworks since 1986. She sells her original artwork and prints, provides custom framing and stocks an eclectic mix of gifts and goods for every budget. MacDowell has built her shop to be able to employee and support a community of fellow female artists and framers. Even a 2019 fire, which destroyed Artworks’ entire inventory, couldn’t stop MacDowell from continuing on.

MacDowell sees a strong future for the arts in West Virginia, one of the reasons she is so passionate about creating a scholarship.

“WVU has a good art program and I'd like to see people be able to focus on their skillset in a way that can make a living for them, MacDowell said. "I feel like Artworks has been able to add a lot to our small community and being a part of continuing to spread art into communities is important to me.”

To learn more, contact Matthew Clark at 304-284-4033 or