A! Magazine for the Arts

The artistic talents of Lisa Wade with (inset) Craig Combs and Sandra Wilkins have taken them out of the country.

The artistic talents of Lisa Wade with (inset) Craig Combs and Sandra Wilkins have taken them out of the country.

Our Far Flug Artists

October 31, 2012

Many artists have followed a path that led them away from home, but the paths of Craig Combs, Lisa Wade and Sandra Wilkins led them out of the country.

Combs, from Bristol, Tenn., lives in London. Wade, from Abingdon, Va., lived in Italy for years, but now moves according to work projects, mostly between Rome and Berlin. We contacted her in London where she was curating an exhibit. Wilkins has traveled the furthest – to Qatar.

They all arrived at their new destinations for different reasons. For Combs it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to live in Europe and experience its musical culture.

"The planning and the practical aspects for such a move took years to put in place," he says. "But the move to Europe was an easy decision to make. It made sense as a way to advance my career objectives and fulfill my dream. The decision to go back to performance full time was a much harder decision. It was less of a practical decision and more of a spiritual one, a deep conviction that music is ultimately an artistic expression of the human condition. The utterance of that expression is my lifelong goal."

Wade first travelled to Italy for a summer postgraduate program to study art. "After, that more opportunities arose in Italy: an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice; acceptance into graduate school based in Italy and working as an assistant to an internationally recognized sculptor. Gradually Italy became my place to live and work."

Like Wade, Wilkins didn't set out to move to another country. She was teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., when Dean Richard Toscan asked if she would go to the college's campus in Qatar and set up the fashion department.

"I reluctantly agreed, saying maybe for one year," Wilkins says. "When I arrived I cried every day. But the tears stopped a few months later, and I was hooked. My students and their families were so incredibly kind to me and embraced me and surrounded me with such warmth that I soon settled in. I've been here almost 13 years, and the challenges are just what a girl from Bristol, Va., needs."

All three work in different media. Combs is a musician, Wade an artist, and Wilkins a fashion designer. All three live in different countries. All three also share some similarities. They all give back to their adopted communities. They still consider the Mountain Empire home and believe that what they learned from their experiences here has stood them in good stead.

>> Craig Combs