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You’ve probably heard by now about the FANTASTIC training sessions available to you during Master Gardener University. But the training sessions are not the only great things happening during MGU!

Those of you coming to Master Gardener University for both Friday and Saturday sessions are invited to dinner on Friday night in the lovely Magnolia Ballroom at the Georgia Center. Some of you may even have the privilege of sitting at the head table with our keynote speaker, Dr. Diane Relf, Professor Emeritus of Horticulture, Virginia Tech.

If you’re thinking you’ve heard that name before, you probably have! Diane was my mentor, supervisor, and graduate committee chair during my early career with the Virginia Master Gardener program. I have shared with many of you how her vision and direction for horticulture has resonated strongly with me and is a foundation for the vision I bring to the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program. Diane enjoys an international renown and continues to share her expertise and insight with the green industry and supporting organizations all over the world.

But that is not the exciting part! You know how so many of you said, “I can’t wait to retire so that I can become a MG” ??  Well, I think Diane said, “I can’t wait to retire to become an ARTIST”!!!!

Here’s a little bit about our keynote speaker, Diane Relf, in her own words:

Diane Relf

Diane Relf — Artist’s statement:

First and foremost, art is about having fun by creating something I enjoy messing with. Most of my work is never quite finished, as I add to and embellish it. Experimenting with new materials and techniques and making things up as I go are essential elements of art for me.

My art is about finding discarded objects and manipulating them to explore their potential; then combining the these new objects into statements of appreciation of the mundane. It questions the validity of a throwaway society, the value of always needing new, and the perfection of machinery precision. It celebrates the daily detritus that has lost its meaning and gives it a new opportunity to open eyes and minds. I have long had a love affair with rust and much of my work explores rust’s potential in creative expression in many forms: wood and rust sculpture; rust stained textile and paper backgrounds for rust assemblages; wearable rusted art; metal masks; altered art tiles; photography; and digital graphic “collages”. At the least, my art provides me with many hours of entertainment, challenges me to explore new ways of making art, and provides amusement to my family and friends.

This year I discovered the serendipity involved in alcohol ink abstracts and have been exploring ways to combine the bright, permanent ink colors with rust.

Bio Born and raised poor in Texas, I learned young to play with discarded items and appreciate the value of things that most people found useless. A career in academia had demands that derailed me from playing with art. But since retirement several years ago, I have continuously created and recreated my art.

So, if you haven’t registered to attend Master Gardener University, be sure to do so very soon (click here to go to the registration page)! We want to see you in Athens in June!

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