By Patricia Beech
One might say that Amy Queen is in the Renaissance of her life. A poet, artist, and teacher who 11 years ago walked away from a successful career to pursue a higher education after realizing that college was where she needed to be.
“I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I started college,” she says. “I just knew I wanted to start – my business was very successful, but it was time for me to move on, and I’m happy with the choices I’ve made.”
While working toward her Associate’s Degree, she studied with the widely-acclaimed artist James “Skip” Werline, who she says inspired her. “The opportunity to be one-on-one with a true artist was transformative, avenues opened up and my life began to evolve in a whole new direction.”
She admits that art was not something she had considered pursuing, but it became the choice that helped her reach her sweet spot. “I stepped out of my comfort zone and began to use art for self expression. It helped me blossom into avenues I wouldn’t have ventured into otherwise.”
Queen’s art work was recently featured at a “Meet the Artist” show at Southern State Community College in Mt. Orab where she is employed as an Adjunct Professor of American History, College Success, and Personal Finance.
She says that her art interests vary, and she typically dives into it for relaxation. “College gave me the opportunity to understand art, to perceive it and interpret it. I don’t know if I really would have fully thought about it deeply without taking classes, so it’s through education that I found my love for art.”
Queen’s art is expressive and packed with lots of feeling. Her simple, fanciful subjects are infused with energy by her use of bold contrasting colors that draw the viewer’s eye to the canvas. Her pieces are sensitive and personal, conveying a significance beyond the visual, and she talks openly about what inspired their creation. “For me, art is a therapeutic hobby, a way to relax and express my spirituality.”
While her art leans toward the whimsical, her poetry is decidedly somber, and grounded in reality. “Most of my poems are written from dark places in my soul,” she says, “I can express the hurt in my heart, but someone else might interpret it a whole different way, it might be a light to somebody else. It’s a way for me to let go in a positive way. Poetry expresses my dark side, and art expresses my light side.”
Queen explains that the “dark side” she addresses in her poetry stems from her struggle to deal with illness and loss. She suffers from POTS Syndrome (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), or failure of the autonomic nervous system. The cause of POTS is unknown, and like many patients, she remained undiagnosed for many months. POTS causes a marked rise in heart rate when standing and symptoms may be so severe that normal life activities, such as bathing, housework, eating, sitting upright, walking or standing can be significantly limited.
“It’s an invisible disease,” she explains, “No one looking at you can tell you’re sick, and that is very frustrating.” Currently, there is no cure for POTS. Approximately 25% of POTS patients are unable to work, and their quality-of-life is comparable to patients on dialysis for kidney failure. Despite the debilitating nature of her illness, Queen continues to work. She relishes her role as a teacher and is committed to her students. She says encouraging them to find their passions and explore the world outside and inside themselves is what drives her.
“I think inspiring them to do whatever they want to do is the most important thing for me,” she says. “To let them know that they are unique individuals, to open their minds and work with them is so incredibly satisfying, you can just see them light up.”
SSCC Director and Dean of Studies, Dr. J.R. Roush, praises Queen’s work at the school.
“Amy is one of our Core Adjunct Faculty members and she has been very involved in developing and continuing to enhance our course work through semester conversion,” said Roush. “She just took a professional development trip for the college to Providence, R.I., so above and beyond being a local artist she helps advance our institution academically and professionally.”
Queen also serves as Student Government Advisor at the college’s four campuses, a role she took on this past year.
“Southern State has been good to me,” she says, and I love what I do here. This is where I need to be right now. God has put me right where I’m supposed to be.”
Queen lives in Winchester and is a life-long resident of Adams County. She wished to give thanks first and foremost to God, her spouse, mother, family and friends, Southern State College, and anyone who supported her along her journey.