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Ratliff provides her visual flare to country music capital

Album of the year awardThere are many artists who have become fixtures in Nashville’s music scene, but most of them are either holding a microphone or a musical instrument. Stephanie “Stef” Ratliff has managed to do this in an entirely different fashion.

Ratliff, a two-time MSU graduate from Pike County, Kentucky, has achieved success in Nashville by having her artwork pop up in some prestigious places in and around Music City. She has been painting and personalizing the awards that are given to artists at the Americana Music Awards ceremony by hand since 2013, creating awards for Kentucky country stars like Loretta Stephanie Ratliff's Americana Music AwardsLynn, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers. Many of her Americana award artworks are on display at various museums around the country, including Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame in the American Currents Exhibition. You can also find her artwork created for Loretta Lynn at The Coal Miner's Daughter Museum at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.  

Ratliff, who goes by the artist name “kyartrat,” has been creating these since she graduated from MSU in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art. She earned her Master of Arts in Art from MSU this year. She ended up working with Grant Alden, one of the founding members of the Americana Music Association, for many years at the Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop and CoffeeTree Books in Morehead. He initially asked her to design awards for the organization’s annual awards ceremony, which later led to commissioned work ranging from personal paintings to album covers.

As Ratliff continues her career as a Nashville visual artist, she credits the MSU Department of Art and Design’s faculty and staff for motivating her to further her academic and artistic pursuits.

“I had a very successful undergraduate career and knew I would be successful as a graduate student with the help of the faculty and staff,” she said. “The best part of the department would have to be the connections I have made with other artists. They are invaluable.”

For more information on MSU’s Department of Art and Design, call 606-783-2766, email or visit