ACA Community Artist

ACA Community Artists are an integral part of ongoing efforts to offer unique arts programming throughout Southeast Volusia County. Through existing relationships and decades of community outreach, service, advocacy, and partnerships, ACA has a reputation of serving as a connector in designing programs that create lasting impact.

IMAGES Middle School Art Program

The long-running IMAGES Middle School Art Program, supported by the ACA Volunteer League, was created by local painter Cathy Berse and is now run by ACA Community Artists. This monthly visiting artist program at New Smyrna Beach Middle School features local and regional artists from IMAGES: A Festival of the Arts, and includes a full day workshop into the wonderful world of art. Exploratory project themes have included plein air, felting, color theory, and the artistic styles of Keith Haring and M.C. Esher.

Historic Westside

ACA provides a variety of programming in the Historic Westside of New Smyrna Beach. Shy Morris has led projects including a Freedom Quilt mural in the Westside’s Pettis Park that incorporates symbols used by runaway slaves of the South to communicate with Abolitionists of the North while using the Underground Railroad. She also oversaw the completion of a large-scale community mural in the courtyard of the Alonzo Babe James Center. This mural celebrates the African-American experience and local history. It is the culmination of a year-long project in which children were taught basic artistic processes as well as history. ACA Community Artist, Bethany Bennett has led S.T.E.A.M. programs for youth at the Alonzo Babe James Center, sharing the importance of art in relation to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


Community Artists share fun, easy art projects on the ACA YouTube channel! These activities connect Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Bethany Bennett shares step by step instructions using supplies that can be found at the dollar store. Visit ACA Community Programs online.

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Get to know the ACA Community Artists!

Shy Morris, ACA Community Artist

Atlantic Center for the Arts longtime Community Artist Shy Morris, draws upon her experience as a social justice advocate, including three years working with ACA Master Artist and MacArthur Genius Award Recipient Rick Lowe at Project Row Houses in Houston. She has an educational background in early childhood studies and creates fun, thoughtful art programs designed to encourage and educate children, teens, and adults.

What inspired you to pursue this field?

I was always inspired by community service. As a young girl growing up in NSB, my family (4th generation native to NSB) was always involved in creating a better community. So that part was natural. The Arts component was a little harder to get people to see it as a professional path. Working for ACA has help add validity to being an artist and the importance of the creative work and solutions this field provides. Its my dream life. I’m creating it as I am inspired by our community.

How have the arts been transformational in your life?

My art saved my life so many times. I’ve traveled all over the world as an artist. I’ve used my art to help provide positive images of self to help promote high self esteem, and as an educational tool in STEAM curricula. I’ve created drawing that were transformed into large public art pieces that have changed the idea of what art can be in communities of color. I’ve use my art to build a professional face painting business that provided income to help sustain my family when I was going through a divorce with four kids, no job and almost homeless. Also seeing the community transformed by me being able to live and work in a community that values my contribution has been extremely rewarding.

What’s special about the people of this community?

The people of NSB are a special kinda people. I’ve been to a lot of great places but nothing like NSB. I appreciate the support throughout the county and in the City of NSB. There is something special about small town artists that carry a host of talents that some of my friends are amazing artist but so humble that they don’t want to call themselves artists.

What is the most rewarding part of your work with ACA?

The ability to be FREE. Sometimes as artists we don’t have the space to be creative and have our thoughts be able to manifest in the real world. Working at ACA is my dream because of the work that I’ve done for the past 7 years: Murals, dance and double dutch, eliminating bullies, drink more water challenges, senior art and wellness, interviewing seniors in the Historic Westside, community outreach, diversity building, working in Volusia County Schools and so much more came out of my mind to create positive solutions and programs that help provide socio-emotional learning experiences in inter-generational environments. Creatively changing the community.


Bethany Bennett, ACA Community Artist

Bethany Bennett is an interdisciplinary artist who earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Central Florida and her Masters of Fine Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The art work she produces question women’s equality and role in society. Her investment in the community is to boost others confidence and self-worth through artistic practices. Currently she is an art professor at Daytona State College.

What inspired you to pursue this field?
I was inspired to use art for wellness and share it with the community by the transformation I saw in my own personal well-being. Art is a huge part of life, and I use it everyday in all activities.

How have the arts been transformational in your life?
Art has always been an escape for me. I’ve always believed you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

What’s special about the people of this community?
The residents of Volusia county are each special and unique in their own ways. Working with younger and older generations makes the inter-generational connection more visible to me.

What is the most rewarding part of your work with ACA?
The most rewarding part about this work is seeing others feel self ❤️ love and learn to express themselves through art.