CATF’s Peggy McKowen named West Virginia Artist of the Year

Shepherdstown, WV: Peggy McKowen, the Associate Producing Director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) at Shepherd University, was honored at the 2018 West Virginia Governor’s Arts Awards. McKowen was named the West Virginia Artist of the Year for her artistic excellence, impact to the state, and her role in growing and strengthening the arts in West Virginia.

A native West Virginian, McKowen is a set, lighting, and costume designer for theaters across the country and the globe. Her work has been showcased by numerous publications including The Theatre Experience, American Theatre, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and The New York Times and seen China, Brazil, Germany, Scotland, Italy, and her artistic home, the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

McKowen has designed some of the Festival’s most memorable costumes including Everything You Touch and The Wedding Gift. In 2017, these costumes were showcased at the Museum of Fine Arts – Washington County, in the exhibition HIGH DRAMA: Costumes of the Contemporary American Theater Festival. 

McKowen’s talents are not limited to theatrical design; she is also passionate about education. McKowen created CATF’s HostelYOUTH! program, a theatrical camp for high-school students and was a driving force in Shepherd University’s new Contemporary Theater Studies major.

McKowen, thrilled to be named West Virginia’s Artist of the Year, thanks “Ed Herendeen, who founded the Contemporary American Theater Festival, an arts organization that made it possible for me to be in my home state and with my family making art. West Virginia is a great home for artists. The state is full of vibrant culture. It’s an honor to make a difference in the lives of West Virginians.”

James McNeel, former CATF Managing Director, applauds her contributions to both the state and the theatrical industry. “She is smart, passionate, and at the top of her game as a designer, working with scenically and in costumes,” McNeel begins. “She has lifted CATF, and in turn, West Virginia to national prominence.”

CATF Board President Paul Garrard celebrates McKowen’s accomplishments and award, “She’s the real deal; a remarkably gifted woman whose considerable creativity is surpassed only by her class as a person.  She represents all that is right with the arts, and does so well beyond our great state of West Virginia.  On behalf of the Contemporary American Theater Festival Board of Trustees, sincere and heartfelt congratulations to Peggy, we could not be more proud.”

Photo: HIGH DRAMA; Costumes by Peggy McKowen