Nottoway chief honored by Virginia Commission for the Arts

Published 12:38 pm Saturday, February 3, 2018

Nottoway Chief Lynette Allston was the recipient of an Arts Leaders and Supporters Award from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. The 50th anniversary event, “50 for 50 Inspiration Awards,” was conceived and designed by the Commission as a tribute to 50 examples of programs, individuals and organizations critical to the arts in Virginia. The awards celebration program and reception was on Jan. 31 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.

In her role as chief and Tribal Council chair of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, Allston encourages and mentors the citizens of the Tribe to embrace traditional creative art forms while incorporating their contemporary interpretations. As president of the Rawls Museum Arts in Courtland, she strives to promote a broader appreciation of all art expressions in smaller communities, where resources are scarce.

Following a career as a small business owner, Allston returned to her childhood home in Drewryville. In the decades preceding her retirement, she was a committed advocate for an array of community activities, commissions and boards in Columbia, South Carolina. These included serving on the Board of the Columbia Museum of Art and a term as the Chairman of the CMA Commission.

In the spring of 2017, Allston opened the intimate Gallery 1606 in Capron as an inclusive showplace for local art. Concurrently, Lynette organized the “First Saturday’s Artisan Market in Capron” as a free venue for the numerous local area artists and craftsmen. The market, which features artisans who create metal art, stained glass, artisan soaps, turned wood, fiber art, jewelry and such, is open the first Saturdays May through December.

As a result of wider outreach, Nottoway tribal artists have shown their work at various museums, art and cultural shows, demonstrated at cultural events, and enhanced the economic viability of their artistry.

Allston hopes her encouraging artists to step outside their comfort zone, to constantly refine their techniques, and to creatively market their talents, has had a meaningful impact in her rural community. Artists in her tribe, and in her broader Southeastern Virginia community, have an enriched vitality to expand, develop and grow as artists.

Through the years, she has served on numerous National Endowment for the Arts review panels as a layperson for the country. In 2017 Allston was also appointed to the Board of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The “50 for 50 Inspiration Award” recipients have demonstrated their contribution to their communities, have encouraged decision makers to create a sustainable environment for artists and arts organizations, have taken an original approach to arts leadership and encouraged the engagement of others, and have championed a broad role for arts organizations and artists to play in their own respective communities.