Susan Starr Wiginton

Susan Starr Wiginton, 73 of Boulder, CO. died at Columbine Acres Garden Care Homes on January 6th, 2022.  She was born November 3rd, 1948 at Eglin Field, Florida to Lois George Wiginton and Denton Clark Wiginton.  Surviving are her brothers Robert and Duncan Wiginton. Also surviving is her sister-in-law, Beverly Wiginton. She was preceded in death by her parents.

Starr was a shining light for those who knew her. Her love of animals and amazing creative spirit will be warmly remembered.  Her life’s work included being a potter and tile maker artist with the Highwater Center Artists Collective in Asheville, NC, art therapist, and activities director. Before moving to Boulder, Starr took vows to become a Zen Buddhist nun under the direction of Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi at Mt. Baldy Zen Center in Mt. Baldy, California.

Please check the Natural Funeral website for details regarding a memorial ceremony at:

Donations can be made in Starr’s honor to Mt. Baldy Zen Center 7901 Mt. Baldy Rd. P.O. Box 429 Mt. Baldy, CA. 91759 or the Alzheimer’s Association, Colorado Chapter.

Highwater Center: The Other River Arts District and the Arts in the 1980s

In 2016 we think the arts activity in Asheville is in the River Arts District or in downtown. But at the beginning of the 1980s Highwater Center opened an exhibit space on the OTHER river—the Swannanoa.

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Highwater Gallery Area

Several years before the exhibit space opened, however, fourteen artists in the mid-1970s established an artists’ co-operative in an abandoned mica warehouse on Thompson Street.  Thirty or forty years ago, artists struggled with the same problems that confront artists today. They require a place to work with ample floor space and light and heat.  They want moderate or cheap rent.  They need room for trucks and vans and storage areas for tools.  And they hope for the companionship of other creative minds for discussion and collaboration.

Bob Gursky, a blacksmith from Wisconsin, moved to Asheville and found the warehouse on the river.  It provided studio space for him but also allowed space for other artists, working in clay, wood, metal, and fiber, to use as studios.  The artists shared expenses and maintenance.  At meetings the group discussed problems and made decisions on business policies.  The fourteen artists discovered they could talk to each other, sharing ideas and techniques.  They could suggest galleries to show their work.  And together they could solve very practical problems such as unloading a ton of clay or a truckload of metal.

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In 1979 Brian and Gail McCarthy drove into Asheville in a pick-up truck with their two kids and a tent.  They spotted the mica warehouse, acquired a professional mixer, and began their clay-mixing operations in 1980.  So Highwater Clays, which moved to the French Broad River District in 1985, was also a part of Highwater Center.

In 1980 the group was ready to move in a new direction—exhibit space.  They realized Asheville was saturated with artists but offered few outlets for artwork.  In November of 1980, as part of Hallelujah Asheville!, the exhibit space opened.  At the time of the opening the resident artists included:

Sarah Struby, pottery

Larry Bradshaw, pottery

Brian McCarthy, pottery

Starr Wiginton, pottery

Bob Gursky, sculpture

Mike Potter, woodwork

Bo Ball, soft sculpture, batik

Tony Bradley, graphics, painting

David Jernigan, graphics, painting

Monica Lomax, weaving

Shelley Renner, painting

Montford Park Players, costuming


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Highwater Center closed in the 1990s but several of the artists are still working in the Asheville area and contributing to the arts community.  That’s staying power!

Information and photographs from The Arts Journal, Vol. 6, Number 3/December 1980

2 thoughts on “Susan Starr Wiginton”

  1. Starr received her B.S. from East Tennesee State University in Johnson City, TN.
    Starr received her Master of Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.

    Her Buddhist name was: Seiren
    noun: integrity, honesty, purity, unselfishness
    verb: refining, tempering
    Sei: fine, essence, energy, soul, ardor

  2. Star was a wonderful person and a good artist, as all of all of us, who were just starting out. She had a “spirt” and was very warm hearted and was able to work with everyone.
    I am very sad with her passing, and have thought about her, often and I wondered where she landed.
    She landed in a good place!

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