Heather Story Williams
Photo by Steve Bracci
Little did I know,” laughs Heather Story Williams as she sits in her bright, chaotic office on the first floor of the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art. The art institute is a familiar place for Williams: As a little girl, she often visited its spacious galleries with her artist mother, Molly Story, awestruck by how many different mediums and artists there were in the world.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Williams majored in fine arts at Augusta State University, where she found a love of sculpture and mixed media. “People always doubt that you can do something with an art degree,” she says. “I just wanted to prove people wrong.” She was a curatorial intern at the Morris Museum of Art, then worked in volunteer services at Georgia Regents Medical Center, where she oversaw the hospital’s Healing Arts Program.
When a high school friend called her about the GHIA director position, she jumped at it. “It’s still a really wonderful creative outlet for me, so I can be in the arts…and the idea of being able to be part of something as it’s moving forward,” says Williams. “I really feel like we’ll have lots of exciting things happen here—new artists, classes—and it’s interesting to be a part of that.”
With her fresh enthusiasm and artist’s eye, Williams’s vision includes expanding the institute’s class roster, adding print making, photography and etching and setting up the website for online registration. The 1818 building also has its share of needed repairs and she would love to see it as a showplace again on Augusta’s social scene for weddings and other events.
With nearly a year under her belt, one of the things she’s proud of is GHIA’s recent cleanup day, where friends and supporters, who have just as much love for the old building as she does, spent two days giving it a dose of TLC. Even now, some days, Williams still can’t believe she’s here. “It’s so weird to see it all come back around,” she says. “It still blows my mind.”