Updating the first of eight Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow suites was a group effort and a labor of love. Peggy Kjelgaard, current WCDH Board President, had the original vision for a Sponsor a Suite campaign to commemorate 20 years of hosting writers in 2020. She chose Spring Garden as the first suite because it was most in need of refreshing. It needed so much, that WCDH Board Member, Teresa DeVito, agreed to co-sponsor the suite. Teresa says, “When I initially toured the suites, the first thing I noticed was the gorgeous, serene setting. The second thing I noticed was the clutter. There seemed to be no uniformity or flow and no open space in which to create. Our main focus was to keep it minimal and clean, providing the writer with quietude and space to expand their creativity.”
The work was completed in just over a month and included; gutting the bathroom, painting, wallpapering, refurnishing, and redecorating. Teresa DeVito lead the effort and coordinated the team of contributors; James DeVito of DeVito’s of Eureka Springs, Bill White Plumbing, Nate Seymour of Hayes Electric, Doug and Susan Brashears of Brashears Furniture, Cheryl Thielemann of Velvet Otter, Robert Roman Norman of Woodzy, and Melodye Purdy of Purdy Art Company. “We are fortunate to have such a strong community of supporters and we’re grateful for all the effort to make this beautiful transformation happen. I can’t wait to see how the next seven suites turn out,” said Michelle Hannon, the new WCDH Executive Director.
As sponsors of the Spring Garden suite refresh, Peggy Kjelgaard and Teresa DeVito have the honor of re-naming the suite. The newly renovated suite is now the Maya Angelou suite. Peggy said, “She was from Arkansas and she was a poet that wrote poignantly about civil rights.” Teresa added, “I don’t even remember when I first read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but I was young and identified so much with her story and her trials. Maya found her voice and her power through her creativity, another parallel for me.” Asked how Maya Angelou inspired the décor, Teresa said, “I wanted the suite to feel feminine with a touch of Southern Arkansas, and elements of inspiration, empowerment, peace, and comfort.” Appropriately, the first writer to stay in the new Maya Angelou suite will be Jenna Laurenzo. Jenna is the winner of the Getting it Write fellowship awarded to a playwright working on a film or play that positively portrays LGBTQ life and the struggles faced by members of that community.
Since opening its doors to writers in 2000, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow has made a lasting impact on the arts and literary communities providing uninterrupted residency time for writers of all genres, including culinary, composers, and artists, without discrimination.
The WCDH has hosted over 1,400 writers from 48 states and 11 countries. For more information, please call Michelle Hannon at (479)253-7444.
Images courtesy of Melodye Pudy, Purdy Art Company