When Sue Oliver came to Statesboro in 1969, she was unaware of the impact she would make on the community. Her efforts have helped those around her understand and appreciate the value of art and ithe influence it can have on life. Oliver’s support, dedication and passion for the visual arts and the Averitt Center for Arts have earned her the recognition as the 2008 Volunteer of the Year.
Oliver’s love for the arts and sciences is reflected in many aspects of her life. With intentions to be a medical illustrator, the New Jersey native attended Hood College, an “all-girls” institution, majoring in Pre-Med with a minor in art. It was at Hood College where she met her husband, Dr. Jim Oliver, a world-renowned scientist.
After having her two sons, Jim and Andy, Oliver volunteered for the Boy Scouts, PTA, Symphony Guild and the Hoe & Hope Garden Club. During a trip to Oklahoma and Kansas, Oliver rediscovered her appreciation for her talents and was encouraged by her husband to return to painting.
Oliver continued her scientific drawing career on a part-time basis. She also became well-known for her side projects, like painting the portraits of every Georgia Southern president and a few college deans.
Since then, Oliver has become involved with the Statesboro Arts Council and a volunteer at the Averitt Center for the Arts.
In July 2005, Oliver was elected chair of the Averitt Center Visual Arts Committee, where she hosted several monthly meetings at her home. She would often providing home-cooked meals as an incentive for attendance. Some say this was one of the reasons they remained long-term committee members.
“Sue is an amazing artist and wonderful person. I have worked with her for three years on the Visual Arts Committee, which she chaired with the quiet confidence it takes to motivate a volunteer organization,” said Frank D’Arcangelo, incoming Visual Arts Committee chair. “She is a gem in the art world and Statesboro community.”
Oliver has also assumed leadership roles in various programming efforts for the Averitt Center. She was responsible for coordinating the 2005 Folk Art Meets Folklore, 2006 Couple of Complements, 2007 Wildlife Art and Joe Olson’s Invitational in 2008.
“With Sue at the helm of the committee I always knew the show would be installed on time and ready to open no matter how many obstacles came up at the last minute. Sue made being the chair of the Visual Arts Committee look easy, I can only hope to match her grace, dedication and determination in the year to come,” D’Arcangelo added.
In addition to coordinating many exhibitions throughout the year, Oliver also assisted with the installation of several exhibits. Some of that work entailed traveling to artists homes to pick up pieces, delivering them to the Averitt Center and returning the art work once the exhibit closed.
“She is very enthusiastic about her position as chair of the Visual Arts Committee which probably stems from her passion for her personal artwork. She is kind, caring, and very well organized and willing to do whatever necessary to ensure that things run smoothly,” said Dawn Oliver, the honoree’s daughter-in-law.
Oliver’s commitment to the Averitt Center shines through in her contributions to its growth and success. She helped coordinate the “Featured Artists” page on the center’s website, attends almost every exhibit opening in the Main Gallery, has manned the gallery and volunteered to provide facility tours to guests. More recently, Oliver has agreed serve as scheduling chair for the Main Gallery Exhibitions through 2010.