Wanda Lea Austin, Untitled, no date. Oil on canvas. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Estate of Wanda Lea Austin.

Wanda Lea Austin (b.1926-d.2006)

Wanda Lea Austin, an Illinois native, graduated from the Evanston Collegiate Institute in 1946. She continued her pottery studies at Black Mountain College, Kalamazoo Academy of Art, the American Academy of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1951 she moved to the Celo Community, the oldest land trust in the country, located in Western North Carolina. She continued to work in her pottery studio, joining the Southern Highlands Handicraft Guild in Asheville in 1958.

In 1965, Austin returned to school to earn her master’s degree in social work from the University of Georgia. In 1971 she married Harvey E. Austin, an Asheville-based social worker. Wanda continued to work in ceramics, devoting most of her energy to her studio practice before returning to social work in 1985.