From Small Town Mayor to Realist Art Student

eileen dudley in class

Eileen Dudley in Design Fundamentals class

 

Current student Eileen Dudley is an artist through and through. Art – and a deep appreciation for historical architecture and the stories it holds for a town’s history – has propelled Eileen into many interesting periods of her life, including one term as Mayor of Twin City, GA.

Eileen’s path to public office began in 2007, when she and her husband decided to test market their (now) 131-year-old Folk Victorian house in Twin City. At the suggestion of their realtor, they pursued listing their home as historic under the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Two years of careful research through archival information and contact with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) eventually led to her home being listed under historical preservation with the DNR in 2010, and the NRHP in 2012. Her meticulous work caught the eye of the Georgia Historic Society, and she was asked to submit a preservation nomination for Twin City as well. She accepted the challenge.

“I needed the support and approval of the City Council, so with an eye-roll, they gave me their support, never expecting I would actually follow through.” Eileen said. By 2012, Twin City was listed under Georgia’s National Register of Historic Places, and by 2014, it was on the National Register.

Inspired by her success with historical preservation, Eileen set out to do more for her town by enrolling it in the Better Home Town (BHT) program under the National Main Street Program (NMSP). Both organizations aim to bolster revitalization through historic preservation and city planning through design assistance and grant opportunities. As the program’s Main Street Manager, she enacted multiple festivals, re-instated the Christmas Parade, and broke ground on a new Welcome Center.

Eileen’s efforts on behalf of Twin City unexpectedly swept her into the Mayor’s office on a tidal wave of approval – she even unseated the 16-year incumbent! “Being an artist was my greatest asset as Mayor. I could see the possibilities for the town while most residents could only envision what they remembered. My inspiration for Twin City was Bethlehem, PA where I grew up and the way Bethlehem remade itself after the steel mills closed.” says Eileen on her time as Mayor.

 

eileen dudley mayor of twin city ga

Eileen in the Twin City Christmas parade as Mayor

 

Art was an integral part of Eileen’s life for as long as she could remember – back to murals on butcher paper when she was five or making paper flowers from the McCalls Make-It Book. As she grew up in Lehigh Valley, PA, she followed her passion for art through classes at Baum School of Art, and ensured she was always in some kind of creative class from then until college. At Syracuse University, where she majored in Art, Eileen finally settled into her calling as a two-dimensional artist after experimentation in silversmithing led to setting her work bench on fire – twice.

Post-college Eileen continued to work as an artist, showing in regional shows, teaching, and taking workshops to lengthen her education. In her studies she mentored under painter JoElen Macon, who imparted portraiture and an Impressionist approach that greatly shaped Eileen’s approach to painting. Still, with years of exhibits, awards, and training under her belt – and now a Mayoral position – Eileen found herself fantasizing about ateliers and immersing herself deeper into an artist community.

She began exploring her options for an atelier education, leading her to visit with Florence Academy in Italy during a work trip with her husband. After thoroughly studying their program, Eileen felt Studio Incamminati's full color, immersive approach resonated more with her temperament. “What I saw in Studio Incamminati thrilled me. It was a marriage made in heaven – classical realism with contemporary colors! I fell in love.” Eileen said, describing her initial feelings about Incamminati.

 

eileen dudley with astronaut Joan Higginbotham

Eileen at the Georgia Municipal Association summer conference and training with guest speaker, astronaut Joan Higginbotham

 

Eileen was impressed by both the use of a full-color palette in our curriculum, and the work of our students, faculty, and alumni, as well as our community involvement and outreach – which she deems “the heart and spirit of the school.” Specifically, she appreciated our art classes with Philadelphia’s homeless aid nonprofit Project HOME, and the Craniofacial Portrait project with CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).

Now halfway through her first year, Eileen is already excited about what her education with Incamminati will bring. When asked what the future will look like for her, she said, “Besides painting with mastery and confidence, perhaps establish a rural atelier and put classical training in reach of more young people. In general, I hope to ignite passion for art in others; teach them that art is an attainable skill, not a mystery.”

Curious about our programs or how technical realist art training can aide in your career as an artist? Explore our pre-BFA track and Advanced Fine Art Program for Fall 2021.

For any questions about these programs please reach out to Dan Mahlman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (215) 592-7910.