Diane Amato

President of the Board of Liberty Arts

Diane is originally from Massachusetts where she worked as a Program Manager for General Electric. After moving to North Carolina in 1996 she became very involved in art and philanthropy. She opened a photography studio, photographing artwork for local artists as well as making and exhibiting her own work.  

Diane works at Preservation Durham and is currently on the board of Trinity Park Neighborhood Association.  She served on the board of Durham Habitat for Humanity Restore as Treasurer and then President and also joined on the board of Chatham County Arts Council as Treasurer. In 2009 she founded The Art of Giving, a giving circle committed to granting money to non-profits in the Triangle whose programs benefit women and children.  Since its inception, $100,000 has been awarded.


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Carol McLaurin

Vice President of the Board of Liberty Arts

Originally from Michigan, Carol McLaurin has called the Triangle area home since 1994. Since 2001, Carol has held senior management positions at the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) – a statewide non-profit that assists entrepreneurs, small businesses and communities throughout North Carolina. She has over twelve year’s experience designing and implementing programs and partnerships across the university, government and private sectors. In her various roles at the SBTDC Carol has directed small business economic development programs that support individual entrepreneurs, as well as towns, counties and regions aiming to use entrepreneurship as a growth strategy. Over the years, she has observed the strong role that the arts play alongside entrepreneurship in revitalizing local economies. Carol has expertise in the areas of program development, strategic planning, leadership development, workshop facilitation, social entrepreneurship and event planning. A fan of artists, makers and craftspeople, Carol has also studied clay, painting, woodworking, blacksmithing and metal working.


David S. Huber

Treasurer of the Board of Liberty Arts

Originally from Baton Rouge, LA, David arrived in Durham in 2014 and joined Liberty Arts in 2015. He has owned, operated, and managed two successful freelance design businesses, Huber Audio Design and Engineering and DSH Pipes, over the last 9 years. During his time as an Audio Designer, he put his BA in Theatre from LSU to work designing shows for the Cortland Repertory Theatre, Syracuse University, and many others. Having held a deep appreciation and passion for briar tobacco pipes since 2006, in 2011, David took a hiatus from theatrical design in order to explore his sculptural side making his own line of hand-made briar tobacco pipes. Five to six days a week, you can find David sweating the details of his latest creation in the Liberty Arts Sculpture Studio.


Collaborative communication, finding creative solutions, and building effective internal procedures are some of his strong suits. Since he joined Liberty Arts in 2015, he has created a proposed review process for artists, built the Classes Coordinator position that manages student enrollment and attendance for Liberty Arts’ classes, and created the Financial Policies and Procedures for the organization as a whole. As the Liberty Arts Treasurer, he works to manage finances frugally and effectively in order to move the organization closer to its long term goals.


Diane Fening

Secretary of the Board of Liberty Arts

Diane Fening is originally from Ohio and has lived in Florida, California, Virginia, Iowa and now North Carolina for over 5 years.  She studied art history in college and graduate school and has worked in an art museum in Cincinnati and an art gallery in San Francisco.  Diane homeschooled her children while living on a small farm and was able to pursue her love of gardening and cooking.  

She worked in administrative assistant and bookkeeping positions part-time while her children were growing up. Diane now works for Durham County Social Services, serves on the county’s Public Art Committee and is happy to be a part of the Bull City Sculpture Show Committee.  She is passionate about art and wants to see art integrated into Durham’s everyday life.


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Leigh Hayes

Leigh has enjoyed a 40+ year career as an engineer with the past 20 years in executive management positions at two engineering companies. In his last venture, Leigh started a technology based supply chain company which gave birth to a new industry known today as Chemical Management. After leading that company through 10 years of double digit annual growth, he retired in 2012 to focus on glassblowing.

Throughout his career as a chemical engineer, he maintained a passion for the beauty and science of glass. He started glassblowing classes in 1998 at the Urban Glass Institute in New York City and today works out of several glass studios in central North Carolina. Leigh’s interest in glass leans towards transparent glass objects because of their visual depth and gem-like richness of the colors he uses.


Rick Aycock

Rick brings a wide array of skills including engineering, robotics, course design, vocational training and customer service.  He has been working with artists in the Liberty Arts community since 1996 starting out in steel and blacksmithing with Jimmy Alexander – a beloved founding figure at Liberty Arts. Rick got his start as a service manager with a Chevy dealership and then spent 12 years training adults to drive tractor trailers through Johnston Community College. With degrees in computer engineering and automation robotics, Rick spent nearly 20 years with the North Carolina Department of Transportation first training employees and contractors on signal equipment installation then serving as his division's IT technician and finally working with traffic signal systems on North Carolina's highways.

For over ten years, he served as an advisor at Wake Technical College in the Automation curriculum. And for the past 17 years he’s served as scoutmaster for a Raleigh Boy Scout Troop receiving numerous awards for his leadership and helping over 30 scouts reach Eagle Scout rank. Rick’s proficiency with machines and trouble shooting, his long history in vocational training, and his love of the arts make him a unique asset to Liberty Arts where he plays a key role in supporting a growing curriculum of public classes.


Michael Waller

A native of Kinston, NC, Michael received his BFA in Sculpture from East Carolina University in 1997. He has worked professionally as a Foundryman and Metalsmith at Carolina Bronze Foundry and Vega Metals. In 2003, he started WallerFoushee Studios with his wife and sculptor Leah Foushee Waller and began working as a full-time artist. In 2010 he partnered with life long friend and artist Kirk Davis to form Carolina Shuckers hand forged oyster knife company. In addition to creating personal work and historical restoration projects, they have created over a dozen public art projects throughout North Carolina- most notably ‘Major’, the over life-size bronze bull pasturing in downtown Durham, NC. They live in Hillsborough, NC with their two children.

Michael has been involved with Liberty Arts since 2001, working closely with the founding members in the development of the George Watts Hill Pavilion for the Arts. After 12 years of working as Liberty Arts Facilities Manager and Artist in Residence, Michael joined the board of directors in 2013 and served as co-administrator of The Bull City Sculpture Show. 


Peter Katz

As a statistical programmer, Peter Katz works with a team of researchers at Duke University who conduct demographic surveys based in Mexico and Indonesia.  Since, moving to Durham in 2007 with his wife Maria Sanchez he has advocated on behalf of neighborhood and community groups that make Durham a more unique and engaging place to live.  He has served as president of the Old North Durham Neighborhood Association, vice president of the Inter-neighborhood Council (a coalition of Durham’s neighborhood and homeowner’s associations whose mission is to promote the quality, stability and vitality of Durham’s residential neighborhoods) and currently serves as chair of the Durham City Housing Appeals Board (which hears appeals on housing and building code condemnation cases).  Peter has interests in GIS mapping, computer generated 3-dimensional art, nature photography and is a year-round surfer, paddleboarder, and father to wily preschooler, Lucas Max.


Aaron Earley

When I say a great number of different subjects inspire my work, I am not simply making a vague generalization. There are too many subjects, perhaps. I am forever full of racing thoughts, usually with my attention in hot pursuit. It’s the reason why I often work in a short series-based format, and why I have seven different ongoing series of work at the moment. Each series has its own individual artist statement, combination of materials, and methods of production. However, they all share some strange common thread involving mammals, fallibility, and destruction. All in all I strive to find a comfortable balance in the midst of such variety by working as both a sculptor and illustrator.