Alumna named Museum Professional of the Year

By Alex Pologruto | May 22, 2023

Carrie Gibbs

Murray State alumna Carrie Gibbs was recently named the 2022 Museum Professional of the Year by the Illinois Association of Museums (IAM)

MURRAY, Ky. – Murray State alumna Carrie Gibbs was recently named the 2022 Museum Professional of the Year by the Illinois Association of Museums (IAM). Gibbs graduated summa cum laude from Murray State in 2005, with a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in ceramics and art education.  She currently works as director of the Shrode Art Center at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Opened in 1973, Cedarhurst Center for the Arts is a museum and nonprofit organization that celebrates the arts year-round with exciting visual and performing arts, galleries, outdoor sculptures, classes, music and other special programming. The Center services the 40 most southern counties in Illinois through its mission to generate enthusiastic participation and support for the arts, as well as provide opportunities for enjoyment, increased awareness, understanding and appreciation for the arts.

Gibbs has worked at Cedarhurst since 2006. As director of the art center, she coordinates five visual arts exhibitions and over 75 hands-on class offerings each year, serving as a teacher for many of the early childhood, elementary, teen and adult offerings. In addition, she coordinates outreach efforts to bring the arts to Mt. Vernon’s underserved audiences. 

“I am honored and grateful to have been selected to receive this award,“ said Gibbs. “I am very passionate about my career in the arts and my community. This has inspired me and I look forward to what new opportunities may come from this recognition, not only for myself, but for Cedarhurst and our southern Illinois region.”

“Carrie was one of the first BFA students I got to work with at Murray State,” said John Utgaard, professor of ceramics in Murray State’s Department of Art and Design. “I was always impressed with her dedication and positivity. Her career path in museum education has been an excellent fit for her orientation towards community engagement and enthusiasm in teaching.”

“The awards committee was especially impressed by (Gibbs’) depth and breadth of commitment, both to the arts and to every level of her community,” said Debbie Fandrei, IAM’s secretary, who served on the 2022 Awards Committee. “Gibbs’ passion and commitment have made Cedarhurst stronger, the southern Illinois art community more connected and Mt. Vernon schools more vibrant. The community is lucky to have her and the committee is proud to honor her as Museum Professional of the Year.”

Cedarhurst executive director Hillary Esser nominated Gibbs for her leadership in the organization and beyond.

“We have an amazing team at Cedarhurst, and Carrie, especially, is always willing to go above and beyond for our organization and our community,” said Esser. “She is more than deserving of this award and recognition. Carrie is compassionate by nature, and she has single-handedly nurtured and mentored hundreds of southern Illinois artists to help them establish successful careers. She has done the same for thousands of children who have found confidence and independence by the encouragement they receive in Miss Carrie’s classes. Carrie is a leader within our southern Illinois community, both through her work at Cedarhurst and through her affiliations outside of her job. She promotes equity within our region and gives selflessly of her time.”

“This is quite an honor for Carrie and for Cedarhurst,” said Sharon Bradham, former Cedarhurst ED and member of the IAM Board of Directors. “It’s just another example of the quality and recognition that Cedarhurst brings to Mt. Vernon and southern Illinois.”

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