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Alison Mays: Athlete and Artist

New Anderson Artists Guild member Alison Mays was the family athlete while growing up in Rhode Island. She swam and sailed, and at Northeastern University in Massachusetts, she competed on the volleyball and tennis teams. Her major was physical therapy, a choice influenced by her own sports injury during high school as well as a touching experience attending the Special Olympics as an exchange student in Denmark. The physical therapy field, she decided, “was a combination of good health, fitness, activity, and helping people to heal and move."

She worked as a physical therapist for over 30 years. “I enjoyed my patients,” she said. “It was a wonderful chance to get to know different people and help them work through their obstacles.” While living in Florida, in addition to PT, she became certified as a Professional Tennis Instructor. She helped develop after-school tennis programs with the hope of helping to improve children’s fitness, making tennis affordable and available. She eventually became certified as a professional pickleball instructor and currently teaches both tennis and pickleball part time at Cardinal Racquet Club in Anderson. She and her husband moved to this area six years ago to escape Florida’s hurricanes and enjoy the South Carolina Upstate.

Mays has also found the time to explore her creative side through photography and acrylic painting. For her, the two mediums have always been linked. “A long time ago, I started a tradition of painting [Christmas] ornaments for my kids,” she said. “I would take a photo of something important to them that year and paint an ornament of it.” From there, she tried making portraits of family pets, and a passion grew.

She still paints pets via commissions but has branched out and especially enjoys landscapes to capture the local rivers, lakes and mountains. She usually paints from her own photos. She is drawn to the acrylic medium because, she said, “I like that it’s forgiving, the pigments are rich, and it’s fun to work with.”

For more information about Mays, visit


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