Meet the Artists-in-Residence at Stifel Fine Arts Center

“Art… is the transmission of feeling that the artist has experienced.”
– Leo Tolstoy

Oglebay Institute is offering several talented artists the chance to grow, create, teach, and engage the greater community with their Stifel Fine Arts Center Artist Residency Program. 

Featured artists during the current residency period are Kellie Ahmad, creator of stained glass; Diana Laura, who works in copper, wood, and stone sculpture; and Frances Metcalf, who focuses on printmaking and encaustic (hot wax) painting. They will be making art for exhibition as well as teaching school students and older adults from several Belmont County senior centers to create their own art both individually and collaboratively. In addition to conducting community workshops, the artists-in-residence will be leading classes at Stifel Fine Arts Center and utilizing the center’s studios and equipment to create their exhibition art.

Although Stifel has had previous artists-in-residence, this year’s program allows in-depth interaction with a larger group of people who will be learning about and creating art. Oglebay Institute’s director of development, Micah Underwood, wrote the grant to fund this program and says that she is excited to bring it to new areas of the community this year. Underwood expressed her gratitude for funding from EQT and the Elizabeth Stifel Kline Foundation that made this residency possible.

Rick Morgan, director of Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center, adds, “I am excited that this program is able to bring new artists into the Stifel Fine Arts Center. My hope is that each artist will share their own unique style and technique with the Ohio Valley that will inspire and encourage our residents to create new art. My goal is to support each artist by providing them with studio space to create new work, provide them an exhibition to show their work, and to give them opportunities to teach their skills and techniques through outreach in the community.”

Meet Kellie Ahmad

Ahmad is a stained glass artist who sees everyday objects as worthy of exploration in glass. When asked by Weelunk what this opportunity means to her, she became a bit emotional, noting that the recognition that comes with the title of “artist-in-residence” is something that touches her deeply. “This residency provides confirmation that what I do is art and not just crafts’ or ‘construction-adjacent.’” Ahmad also shares, “Art to me is getting the things in my head out into the world – good things as well as dark and painful things.” She believes sharing both positive and negative images allows all art viewers to more readily recognize parts of themselves in what they’re seeing.

  • Kellie Ahmad displays the results of her experiments with a new technique.

The fact that she can use the residency to create art of her own choosing is part of the appeal of the program for Ahmad. As a working artist, she says that she is generally creating commissioned pieces or other art for sale. “It’s rare that I get to make art for my own edification,” she notes. 

Ahmad’s glasswork will also be available for sale at Wheeling Heritage’s Handmade Holiday on May 4 at the Wheeling Artisan Center. Her booth will feature a unique “eternal bloom bar” where patrons can build a stained-glass bouquet by individual stem. You can follow her on Facebook to see more of her work.

Meet Diana Laura

The chance to share her art more broadly attracted Laura to this program. “What drew me to this residency was its community outreach aspect and the opportunity to host workshops. I am the type of artist who loves to share the process of what I do because a lot of people aren’t familiar with the jewelry saw and the many things that can be done with this one tool, which is why the workshops are something that I am very much looking forward to. It is an opportunity to share my passion for metal cutting with many people, and I am excited to pass on all the skills and techniques I’ve developed for this craft since it’s rare to see what I do, done by hand. So far the feedback has been great; it brings me joy to see people at Stifel be interested in what I do,” shares Laura. 

  • Artist Diana Laura.

According to a recent press release, Laura employs subtractive methods in her copper sculpture work, utilizing manual techniques to remove copper, wood and stone. Her aim is to maintain a traditional approach by minimizing her use of power tools. She says, “As I continue to grow and learn, I aspire for my pieces to evolve into striking sculptures that showcase my creativity, craftsmanship and process-oriented techniques. Ultimately, I hope my compositions will speak to people in a way words cannot.” More of Laura’s work can be viewed on her website.

Meet Frances Metcalf

Metcalf is grateful for the opportunity afforded her by this residency. “I’m so grateful to have been awarded the Stifel residency. This residency validates my work as an artist and helps me to know that experts in the field value my creativity. Being here in Wheeling gives me the opportunity to explore new dimensions of printmaking and to add to my body of work. The support that Rick Morgan and all the staff at Stifel have given me will be a great boost to my career,” she shares. The center’s press release notes that Metcalf is a self-taught abstract artist who wants to share her original prints and paintings with others. Metcalf states, “All humans are connected to the creative spirit within. With gentle guidance and instruction, it is possible for all to make art, even those who have never before believed in their own ability to do so. I create art to express myself; I pray that my art will help others to learn to express themselves, too.” More information on Metcalf’s work can be found online here.

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  • Artist Frances Metcalf.

Join the Artists for an Open House

The Stifel Fine Arts Center invites the public to a free Open House on Saturday, April 27 from noon until 2 p.m. where they can meet the artists and watch them create in a live setting. There will be information available about upcoming workshops with the artists, and patrons can also enjoy Crosscurrents 2024, the Center’s current exhibition. The Stifel Fine Arts Center is located at 1330 National Road, Wheeling.

If you can’t make it to the open house, the Stifel Center will host several workshops led by the Stifel Artists-in-Residence throughout the month of May.

Workshops with Stifel Artists-in-Residence

Copper Hand-Cut Jewelry presented by Diana Laura

Friday, May 3, 6:00-8:30pm; $25/$20 OI members

In this workshop, we will be hand-cutting copper designs to use for jewelry. Learn simple techniques on how to finish earrings and necklaces without needing to solder. Register online or call 304-242-7700.

Lead Came and Glass Painting Workshop presented by Kellie Ahmad

Tuesdays May 7, 14 and 21, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; $35/$30 OI members

Each student will work through all the steps involved, from design to finishing, using a small sample pattern. This class will emphasize glass painting and the differences between the copper-foil and lead came methods. Register online or call 304-242-7700.

Copper Hand-Cutting Keychain Workshop presented by Diana Laura

Wednesdays May 8 and 15, 6–8:30 p.m.; $25/$20 OI members

In this workshop, we will be hand-cutting a simple keychain accessory out of copper. The class will mainly focus on developing technique and comfortability for using a jewelry saw. Register online or call 304-242-7700.

Monoprinting with Gel Plates presented by Frances Metcalf

Tuesday, May 14, 1:30–3:30 p.m.; $25/$20 OI members

Learn how to make monotype prints using gel plates. Monotypes are a type of printmaking that produces one image on paper. No printing press is required—once you take this class, you can print at home. Learn about inking techniques, using stencils, and ways you can use the prints you make including collage, backgrounds for other art pieces, and art journals.  Register online or call 304-242-7700.

Copper On Copper Painting Class by Diana Laura 

Friday, May 17, 6–8 p.m.; $25/$20 OI members

Learn how to patina a copper sheet using only three house-safe ingredients. The magic mainly happens after the class when you see your beautiful painting slowly turn “Liberty green,” or you can leave it as is and seal what you painted in class. Register online or call 304-242-7700.

Introduction to Stencil Monoprinting presented by Frances Metcalf

Saturday, May 18,10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.; $35/$30 OI members

Learn how to make monotype prints using a printing press and stencils. Monotypes are a type of printmaking that produces one image on paper. Discover the basics of press use, as well as inking techniques and work with paper, ink, found objects, pattern, and texture to create diverse print compositions. Register online or call 304-242-7700.

Pressed Flower Suncatchers presented by Kellie Ahmad

Wednesday, May 22, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.; $20/$15 OI members

Learn how to make a beautiful stained-glass sun-catcher using pressed and dried flowers. You will learn how to press your own flowers for future projects and crafts! This makes a great gift, or you can keep it for yourself. Register online or call 304-242-7700.

Check out the full lineup of Oglebay Institute’s programs and special events by visiting

• Ellen Brafford McCroskey is a lifelong resident of Wheeling and a proud graduate of Wheeling Park High School, where she discovered her love of writing as a member of the yearbook staff. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management at the former Wheeling Jesuit College. By day, she utilizes that degree at the international law firm where she is employed. After work, you can find her relaxing with family, friends, and her clowder of cats.