The coast mourns the loss of an artist who helped shape our community character.
by Ellis Anderson
Artist and pottery instructor Regan Carney passed away February 19 after a long illness.
In 1980, Regan graduated from Tulane University with a BFA in Sculptural Clay and showed her work in Santa Fe, Los Angeles and New Orleans before moving from L.A. to Bay St. Louis in 1992.
Regan soon conceived of a place where coast artists could rent studio space at a reasonable rate and share resources like kilns. She became one of five artists who founded the Bay Artist Co-op in Bay St. Louis in 1995 and she eventually became the co-op’s manager.
The co-op became a keystone for local artists and a hub of creativity and vitality. Due to her dedication and hard work, it’s now been in existence 28 years and is the oldest artist co-operative in Mississippi.
Regan had hundreds of students through the decades, teaching them the fundamentals of clay and advanced levels of pottery and sculpture. She became legendary for her encouraging manner. Regan would intuitively spot the strong points in a student’s work and help them build on their successes. Even those who didn’t stick with pottery left her classes with a stronger sense of self and a better appreciation for life’s beauties.
If you’re a newer resident of Bay St. Louis, perhaps you haven’t heard of Regan. Yet, she’s probably one of the reasons you picked this community to be your home. Before Hurricane Katrina and after, Regan was a pillar who stood strong for the arts. She was one of the main reasons the Bay garnered national recognition again and again and again – positive publicity that couldn’t have been purchased at any price – as one of the coolest places to live in the South.
Thank you, Regan Carney, for helping shape our community’s character as deftly as you could turn a lump of clay into a piece of extraordinary art. Those who knew you are both humbled and inspired by your life.