Ms. Atkins received her M.A. in Art in 2004 and B.A. in Art in 2002 from Northwestern State University (NSU) in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Her undergraduate studio work and art history research was conducted under Dr. Billy Joe Bryant and Professor Clyde Downs and resulted in a scholarship to continue studying art at the graduate school at NSU. During this time Ms. Atkins also pursued a minor in social sciences with a focus in anthropology. This minor led to projects at Williamson Museum and an internship at the Louisiana Regional Folklife Center. These were conducted under the supervision of Dr. Pete Gregory and Dr. Dayna Lee. Ms. Atkins meets the Secretary of the Interior’s qualifications in Historic Preservation.
In 2002, Ms. Atkins entered the Master's program at NSU, focusing on painting and researching folk art and vernacular architecture. During this time, she continued studying anthropology by taking courses with Dr. Pete Gregory and volunteering at the Louisiana Regional Folklife Center, Williamson Museum, and the annual Folk Festival. She was awarded a graduate teaching assistantship and independently taught design courses and drawing courses. While at NSU, Ms. Atkins researched African American folk art for the Master’s program research requirements. While fulfilling her research requirements she also studied Native American art and basketry at the La Regional Folklife Center. During this time, she was also working on her own art for the Master’s degree, an art exhibit of 30 paintings. The final gallery exhibition included an artist statement regarding the necessity of the creative force in both fine and folk art, and the importance of meaningful art and architecture on a personal and a larger cultural level. Ms. Atkins final thesis project, African American Folk Architecture: Survival and Diffusion in the New World, focused on the building types, namely the shotgun house, that were possibly imported with slaves and continued to flourish after the abolishment of slavery. This research led to an interest in architecture, especially vernacular architecture.
Ms. Atkins has a great deal of experience assessing buildings, structures, and objects using NRHP criteria (36CFR 60.4 [a-d]). Major projects that Ms. Atkins has served as project manager for include: architectural assessment of the Ledbetter Heights (St. Paul’s Bottoms NRHP District) for the I-49 Inner City Connector project; architectural survey of Magazine Street and Prytania Street; NRHP Evaluation of Magnolia Bridge; and Phase II investigations at 16PL188/16PL157. She has served ESI as architectural historian for surveys in Acadia, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Jefferson, Lafayette, LaSalle, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Rapides, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, and Winn parishes in Louisiana. Many projects included impact assessment including application of the NRHP’s criteria of adverse effect as defined by 36 CFR part 800.
In June 2010, when Ms. Atkins accepted a job at Earth Search, Inc., she immediately began working on the University Medical Center (UMC) project. This project is associated with the demolition of multiple properties in the Mid-City NRHP Historic District that lie within the footprint of the newly developed UMC in New Orleans. Ms. Atkins participated in the inspection of historic structures, the identification of salvageable elements, photography, and written salvage reports for the project. She has undertaken similar duties for the LLT project, where numerous structures outside the boundaries of historic districts must be demolished as part of the recovery and redevelopment of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She has participated in reconnaissance level surveys for several LADOTD projects such as I-12 improvements and Pecue Lane. During reconnaissance surveys, she confirmed the existing conditions of historic properties in the project areas and identified potential “red-flag” properties that will have to be avoided during roadway improvements, such as the remains of the 1910 New Llano Socialist Commune in Leesville, Louisiana. She has also completed several Phase I architectural surveys for such projects as US 11 Norfolk Southern Railroad, the Florida Avenue Re-Development, the Iberville Housing Project, the LA 143-US 165 Connector & Ouachita River Bridge, Red River Bridge at Jimmie Davis Highway, the Ellington Levee, the I-12 to Bush Corridor Study, the Lease Development for Alexandria VA Medical Center, You Winn Road and Gloria Drive at US 171, US 84 through Jena, CrossTex Pipeline, and Nineteen Positive Train Control Tower locations. She has performed feasibility and existing conditions assessments for LA3234 project in Hammond, US 167 (Johnston Street) in Lafayette, LA 935 (Stringer Bridge Road), and US 84 Winnfield. She also participated in the NRHP Evaluation of Wedell Park, the Outdoor Hall of Fame at the Canal Boulevard Transit Terminal at Charity Hospital Cemetery No. 2 in New Orleans as well as the Charity Hospital. Most recently she has participated in several cultural resources studies in Mississippi for the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) including SR 448, SR 583, and SR 15/SR 389.
Management at Natchitoches Times/Professional Services Contract
After completing her M.A., Ms. Atkins spent several years employed at the Natchitoches Times as an advertising assistant and then as an assistant manager to the advertising department. She spent a great deal of time working closely with Natchitoches’ Main Street Program and the Landmark Historical District to ensure marketing for the cultural events that highlight the city’s rich and diverse past. Ms. Atkins contributed graphic design, layout, and created advertising schedules for the daily paper and the monthly magazine, Historic Natchitoches. These publications routinely featured the plantations of the Cane River Creole National park, the local Spanish fort, Los Adaes, and the French fort, St. Jean de Baptist Historic Site. In addition, she created the design and marketing schedules for events in smaller communities of the parish, such as the Marthaville Fall Festival and the Robeline Fall Festival, to commemorate the cultural heritage of these areas as well.
While doing advertising, sales, layout, and pre-press production for the Times, Ms. Atkins also continued her work at the Louisiana Regional Folklife Center under the direction of Dr. Dayna Bowker Lee. This professional services contract included transcribing interviews with Native Americans, namely Caddo, Creoles that lived on Cane River, and the people of Los Adaes concerning their memories of the importance of the site of the Spanish fort in that area. This information was organized and entered into a database for the center by Ms. Atkins.
In the summer of 2006, Ms Atkins was asked by the center to participate in the George Stokes Inventory of Folk Houses in Natchitoches Parish. This project consisted of organizing the film negatives and maps left to the Cammie Henry Research Center by George Stokes, geographer, and bringing the data up to a new archival standard. The maps were then studied so that every house could be found, photographed, and information updated for a database. Publication on the center’s website followed and Ms. Atkins provided essays based on her research of folk house types.
Between 2005 and 2007 Ms Atkins was employed as an Adjunct Professor of Art by NSU and taught Design, Painting, Drawing, and Art Education courses. This position included delivering short lectures on art history and the technical aspects of art. The position also necessitated giving hands on demonstrations of techniques and applications. Participants in the courses ranged from traditional college age students to the non-traditional students such as senior citizens.
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