Wilson Museum’s Online Exhibitions Spotlight Work by Artist-in-Residence, Art Faculty

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is presenting two new online artist exhibitions through April 25.

Eleanor Ray: 2021 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence showcases paintings by the New York-based Ray, who is creating work and teaching a seminar at Hollins this semester as part of the program that brings a nationally and internationally recognized artists to campus each spring. Many of Ray’s paintings offer glimpses of places known from the history of medieval to contemporary art, from the 14th and 15th century frescoes in Italy by Giotto and Fra Angelico, to Robert Smithson’s earth work in Utah’s Great Salt Lake, Donald Judd’s concrete and aluminum works in Texas, and Agnes Martin’s artist-built house and studio in New Mexico. Ray also paints pure landscapes, and in many of her works, there is a push/pull between architectural elements, strong shadows, warm light, and soft gradations of colors.

“I like the idea that the small painting is kind of monumental rather than miniature – that it can contain a bigger space, like the imaginative space of a book,” Ray said not only about the scale of her paintings, but also the idea of placing oneself in an immersive setting created by another either through the use of words, or as in Ray’s case, through carefully composed or framed visual components, and leaving it to the reader or viewer to imagine being there.

Ray received her undergraduate degree from Amherst College and completed her M.F.A. at the New York Studio School. Her numerous awards and residencies include the Ucross Foundation, Wyoming; Edward F. Albee Foundation, New York; the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting; and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize.

Elise Schweitzer: Painted Arches and Walled Gardens features a labyrinth of rich color and liminal spaces in a body of work that was created by the associate professor of art at Hollins during her recent sabbatical. Schweitzer is well-known for her large-scale figurative action-filled oil paintings, and Wilson Museum Director Jenine Culligan noted, “These small, beautiful, jewel-like gouache paintings are conceptional departures. One could describe them as cerebral exercises filled with experimentation, sometimes humor, and focused on the play of light, shapes, and color.”

On her shift in style, Schweitzer said, “When I am composing a figurative painting I am always thinking about the direction of the light, the relationship of colors, the balance of opaque to translucent areas in the painting…I think part of making this work was cutting through the need to have a realistic reference and instead just painting the thing that I had always been excited about, without the motif.”

A member of the Hollins faculty since 2013, Schweitzer teaches painting and drawing. She has shown her paintings in Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, and won numerous awards and grants.  She has taught landscape painting classes in Italy and participated in an artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Her paintings are included in Manifest Gallery’s Painting Annual 1, 3, and 4.

 


M.A.T. Student’s Gift for Creating Miniatures Earns Spotlight on HGTV’s “Biggest Little Christmas Showdown”

As an undergraduate student at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Amanda Kelly decided to embark on an ambitious artistic project: purchasing and building a Willow Dollhouse Kit. Because of its size, assembling the kit in her dorm room would in and of itself become an ambitious undertaking. But, she also struggled to acquire the modern miniature objects that were essential to filling each of the dollhouse rooms.

“Through my study of illustration and oil painting, I had developed the patience and creative eye for miniature making,” Kelly, who currently is pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree with a visual arts endorsement at Hollins University, recalls. “So, when I wanted something specific, I attempted to create it myself.”

Kelly found collecting and making miniatures to be an exhilarating process. Soon, her work began attracting admirers who sought out her creations, and this in turn led her to launch her own business, Panda Miniatures, as well as a dedicated Instagram page that currently boasts more than 34,000 followers. The presence of Kelly’s miniatures on social media also captured the attention of the producers of a new HGTV holiday series for 2020: Biggest Little Christmas Showdown, a four-episode competition in which “the nation’s best miniaturists…face off to create the merriest mini holiday houses, complete with all the festive, tiny trimmings.” Kelly and her fiancée and partner in Panda Miniatures, Bree Sepulveda, were subsequently invited to vie for the grand prize of $50,000, which Kelly notes “would be amazing for our wedding.” The pair successfully competed against two other teams in the series’ debut episode (which originally aired November 27 and is available for viewing in its entirety online) and will be among the three finalists when Biggest Little Christmas Showdown concludes on December 18.

Teacher's Desk Miniature
Teacher’s Desk, 1:12th scale. Miniatures “are such a mystifying art form because of their ability to teleport the viewer into another world.”

A native of Brooklyn, New York, who recently relocated to Roanoke (she teaches art at a local middle school), Kelly believes miniatures “are such a mystifying art form because of their ability to teleport the viewer into another world.” She considers creating realistic and contemporary miniatures and scenes her “go-to style. I love when miniature scenes or dollhouses have a cluttered and lived-in look to them as if someone just left. An empty glass, receipts on a counter, trash overflowing, half-eaten chocolate bars – those are the details that bring a miniature scene to life.”

Kelly admits that “making tiny objects by hand is tedious at times, but it has taught me to be a perfectionist and to be proficient in scale accuracy. These became essential skills when I began 3D modeling and utilizing my 3D printers for unique miniature creations.” Her professional opportunities have included making miniature props and sets for clients such as Coca-Cola and Swarovski as well as various TV shows.

Another benefit Kelly cites from her work is the camaraderie she has experienced with others who echo her passion. “The community of miniature artisans has always been so welcoming to me as a young artist, and I appreciate how everyone is eager to share designs with each other.” With so many miniature conventions canceled this year due to COVID-19, she enjoyed seeing other miniaturist friends on the Biggest Little Christmas Showdown set. “It’s a pretty close-knit community…you could say it’s a ‘small world,’” she adds, laughing.

In their preliminary competition, Kelly and Sepulveda and the two other teams were challenged by Tony Award-winning actor and series host James Monroe Iglehart to “take tropical Hawaiian vibes and make a structure inspired by the island greeting ‘Mele Kalikimaka,’ Hawaii’s way to say ‘Merry Christmas.’” The contestants were given a month in advance to begin building their projects and finish up to half of their miniatures; Biggest Little Christmas Showdown’s November 27 episode covers the 12 hours the teams had to complete their designs. At the end of the time period, a panel of judges evaluated each creation based on three criteria: interpretation of the theme, creativity, and execution.

“‘Mele Kalikimaka’ is the perfect theme for Christmas because it forces you to think out of the box,” Kelly says during the show. She and Sepulveda created a floating tiki bar, a pontoon they dubbed “Santa’s Tiki Boat,” augmented by a sandy beach, a palm tree, and even two “sand people” in the classic snowmen shape.

Kelly and Sepulveda skillfully overcame some unexpected challenges and setbacks during the 12-hour construction marathon and emerged triumphant with the judges, who praised their structure as a “completely unexpected approach” and “Jimmy Buffett having Christmas on the beach.”

Golden Bat Tattoo Shop Miniature
Golden Bat Tattoo Shop, 1:12th scale

“What set us apart from the other teams is our attention to detail,” Kelly says, “things that just take it to next level of realism.”

As she and Sepulveda prepare for the competition final, Kelly continues to find encouragement in a particularly cherished childhood memory.

“When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was play with my Grandma Kelly’s dollhouse. It was built from scratch in the 1980s and filled with vintage miniature furniture. During special occasions, Grandma Kelly would hide a miniature chocolate bar inside one of the rooms of the dollhouse and encourage me to search for it. I would carefully open tiny drawers and peek behind little cabinets until I found the hidden treasure. When I found the miniature chocolate bar, Grandma Kelly rewarded me with a handful of M&Ms. We continued this tradition until I inherited Grandma Kelly’s dollhouse after she passed away in 2016.

“As 2020 comes to a close, I think of the miniaturists who came before me, like my Grandma Kelly, who inspired me to keep creating and bringing the joy of miniatures to the world.”

 

Top photo: Miniatures of Amanda Kelly (left) and Bree Sepulveda from the Biggest Little Christmas Showdown wrap party.


Hollins Announces Eleanor Ray as 2021 Niederer Artist-In-Residence

Brooklyn-based painter Eleanor Ray is the Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence at Hollins University for 2021.

Each year, the artist-in-residence program brings to campus a nationally recognized artist who produces work and teaches a special seminar. The program is named for a beloved art historian who taught for many years at Hollins.

Ray makes small-scale paintings of encounters with specific places, including well-known or art-historically significant sites, and others more anonymous. As art critic and curator John Yau described her work, “The unoccupied interior or landscape becomes a sacred space, a place of solitude and reflection. The windows remind us that there is an exterior and interior world, and that we always occupy both.”

Ray earned her B.A. in English and art and the history of art from Amherst College, and her M.F.A. in painting from the New York Studio School. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Nicelle Beauchene Galler, New York; Howard’s, Athens, Georgia; and Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York. She has been the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting, and her work has been supported by residencies at Steep Rock, the Motello Foundation, Yaddo, Ucross, Jentel, The Edward Albee Foundation, and the BAU Institute. Her work is in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

 

 


Hollins Partners With City of Roanoke For Art By Bus, Writer By Bus Programs

Hollins is helping promote the value of public transportation to the Roanoke Valley by bringing visual arts and inspired writing onto the area’s bus network.

The university has joined RIDE Solutions, the Roanoke Arts Commission, and the Greater Roanoke Transit Company in presenting the annual Art By Bus and Writer By Bus programs, which this year showcase the talents of Hollins undergraduate and graduate students.

JM Lamb
Horizon student JM Lamb, whose design, “Wishes,” was selected for the fifth annual Art By Bus Program.

Associate Professor of Art Jennifer Printz led one of her classes in creating a series of original works, one of which would be selected to be installed on an entire half of a Valley Metro bus. “Wishes” by Horizon student JM Lamb (pictured above) was chosen by representatives of Hollins, RIDE Solutions, and the Arts Commission to be displayed this year.

Lucy Marcus, who is pursuing an M.F.A. in creative writing at Hollins, was selected through a competitive process by a panel of arts commission and community members as this year’s Writer By Bus. She will ride various buses throughout April and May to produce literary works about her experiences, the people she meets, and the neighborhoods she visits. Her chronicles can be followed on the Writer By Bus Facebook page. Marcus’ final works will appear on the RIDE Solutions webpage this fall.

“These are exciting opportunities for our students not only to be involved in promoting this vital public service, but also to see an example of how the arts can be used to draw attention and change perceptions about important issues in our community,” said Hollins President Pareena Lawrence.

Kevin Price, general manager of the Greater Roanoke Transit Company, added, “We hope to make the role of public transit more visible, and to make the experience of taking the bus more exciting.”

Lucy Marcus
Hollins graduate student and teaching fellow Lucy Marcus is this year’s Writer By Bus.

Lamb’s design (along with works from the City of Roanoke’s public arts collection that will be displayed on the exterior of two other Valley Metro buses) was officially unveiled at an event on the Hollins campus on April 18. “My intention with this project was to create an image that invokes memories and feelings that instill joy, transcending age, race, and cultural differences, as well as socioeconomic class inequalities. In short, something for everyone,” Lamb explained. “Initially when most of us think of dandelion seed ‘puffs,’ we can mentally scroll back to childhood and the hours spent stalking the yard for an intact ‘puff’ to blow in the wind. So simple and satisfying was this playful task, the thought of it produces a smile on most of our faces.”

Marcus, who was recognized with Lamb at the event, noted, “I feel very lucky to live here, where our city workers and elected officials who do the difficult and vital work of keeping the transit circulating also create such rich programming to integrate and support the arts. I look forward to riding and writing with my eyes and heart open.”

Learn more about this year’s Art By Bus and Writer By Bus programs in this Roanoke Times article.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Trailsetter Series features the Art By Bus program in this segment on local art in the Roanoke Valley.

 


Wilson Museum’s New Exhibition Showcases 2019 Artist-In-Residence

Hollins University’s 2019 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence is renowned for her images of family members, co-workers, friends, and herself – intense, honest, larger-than-life, close-range portraits.

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is featuring an exhibition of Diane Edison’s work in the Ballator-Thompson Gallery from January 17 through April 28.

Edison says she “came around to the idea of painting portraits as a way of finding myself,” and creates her art using color pencil on black paper. The intricately detailed works draw the viewer in for scrutiny, and offer an extreme psychological and physical depiction of the people within her circle. She earned her B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1976 and her M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. She has been a member of the Lamar Dodd School of Art faculty since 1992. Her college textbook, Dynamic Color Painting for the Beginner, was published in New York City and the United Kingdom in 2008 and has since been produced in Spanish and Chinese language editions.

Edison’s New York exhibitions have included the Forum Gallery, DC Moore Gallery, and the Tatischef Gallery. Her work has also been shown in the American Embassies in Russia and Chad; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea; and other venues in the U.S. and abroad. She is a past recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Award and the Georgia Women in the Arts Recognition Award.

Established by an anonymous donor in 1997, the endowed Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence program allows Hollins to bring a nationally recognized artist to campus each academic year. In residence during the spring semester, the visiting artist creates work in a campus studio and teaches an art seminar open to all students.

Located in the Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the Wilson Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m., and Thursdays, noon – 8 p.m. Admission is always free.


VTCSOM’s “The Influence of Women” Exhibition Showcases Hollins Artists

Works by Hollins University students highlight a new exhibition that explores and celebrates the many ways women affect their worlds.

Students in Associate Professor of Art Jennifer Printz’s Intaglio Printmaking class have contributed their creativity to “The Influence of Women,” which is on display at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) through March 1, 2019.

“Each student produced two amazing prints about women who have influenced them from friends, to family, to fictional heroines,” Printz explains.

The focus of the show was developed in appreciation for VTCSOM’s founding dean, Cynda Johnson, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Sponsored by VTCSOM’s Creativity in Healthcare Education program, “The Influence of Women” is one of three exhibitions held annually for local artists to showcase their works to the community and to reinforce to medical students the importance of having a community connection.

VTCSOM is located at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke.

 

Image: Rachel Jackson Hikaru, dry-point print with watercolor, 2018.


Hollins Names Diane Edison Artist-in-Residence for 2019

One of the country’s most prominent professors of studio art whose work has appeared nationally in New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, and internationally in Russia and Chad, will serve as Hollins University’s Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence in 2019.

Diane Edison, who is professor of art at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, will spend Spring Term 2019 on the Hollins campus. The artist-in-residence program enables the university to bring a recognized artist to campus every year to work in a campus studio and teach an art seminar open to all students. During their time at Hollins, the artist-in-residence is a vital part of the university and greater Roanoke communities.

Edison, who creates her work using color pencil on black paper, focuses on portraiture with an emphasis on the autobiographical.  Her images are thematically narrative in presentation and psychological in nature. New York City’s Forum Gallery, DC Moore Gallery, and Tatischef Gallery; the Leeway Foundation in Philadelphia; and Clark Atlanta University in Georgia are among the U.S. venues where her art has been exhibited or collected. Overseas, her paintings have been on display in the official residences of the American ambassadors in Moscow, Russia, and N’djamena, Chad.

Edison’s exhibitions have been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker magazine, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Philadelphia Enquirer, Art News, and the St. Louis Dispatch. Reproductions of her artwork were featured twice in Artists Magazine. In 2010-11, she traveled to Bulgaria as a Fulbright Scholar, and she is a past recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Award and the Georgia Women in the Arts Recognition Award. Her textbook, Dynamic Color Painting for Beginners, came out in 2008 and subsequently was published in the United Kingdom, China, and Spain.


Student Artists Showcased in New Voice Exhibit

Hollins University studio art majors Meera Chauhan ’19 and Ashley-Kate Meador ’18 are among ten emerging regional artists featured in the Sixth Annual New Voice Exhibit at the Floyd Center for the Arts in Floyd, Virginia.

The exhibition continues through March 31 and admission is free and open to the public.

Each year, the New Voice Exhibit highlights artists who are suggested by area college and university art instructors. Either current or former students, the artists may be just beginning their artistic journeys or changing their artistic paths is some major way. In addition to Hollins, this year’s artists come from Radford University and Virginia Tech as well as nominations by Floyd Center for the Arts Board and Gallery Committee members.

“What a fascinating show this is,” said Becky Lattuca, the center’s director of special programming. “Although we review the recommendations before inviting the artists to participate, we do not select the artwork. Instead, we ask each of them to surprise us with their choices. This approach allows the artists to highlight what they see as their most significant recent innovations, creating a uniquely diverse and thought-provoking representation of what these emerging artists have to say.”

Chauhan works in oil paint while Meador creates with textile.

The Floyd Center for the Arts is located at 220 Parkway Lane South in Floyd and is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Artist-in-Residence is Powerful Visual Activist, LGBT Advocate

The 2017 winner of France’s top cultural honor will be teaching students, exhibiting her work, and leading a special symposium on the Hollins campus this spring.

South African photographer and activist Zanele Muholi will be Hollins’ 2018 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence during the university’s Spring Term, which begins January 31. The Artist-in-Residence program enables Hollins to bring a recognized artist to campus every year.  While in residence, they work in a campus studio and teach an art seminar open to all students. During their time at Hollins, the artist-in-residence is a vital part of the campus and greater Roanoke community.

Muholi has earned international acclaim for her efforts to document South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. In 2017, her work has been shown in galleries and museums in New York, Cape Town, London, Amsterdam, and Berlin. She is perhaps best known for her ongoing series and self-described “lifetime project” Faces and Phases, which includes black-and-white photographs of lesbian and trans South Africans. The series began in 2006 and was the basis for a 2014 book that featured 258 images from the project’s first eight years.

A new book of 100 self-portraits, Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, is scheduled for publication in April 2018. In November 2017, she was actively involved in New York City’s Performa 17, “a leader in commissioning artists whose work has collectively shaped a new chapter in the multi-century legacy of visual artists working in live performance.”

Muholi has earned numerous awards, most recently and most notably France’s Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) for 2017, which recognizes those who have “distinguished themselves in the domain of artistic or literary creation or for the contribution they have made to art and literature in France and the world.” Upon receiving the honor, Muholi stated, “We work hard to create content that scholars and the rest of the world are able to use to highlight the many challenges faced by the LGBT communities….[It] is important to make sure that we unite the LGBT community so that people know that we too exist as professionals and as creators of great content.” Other honors include the 2016 Infinity Award from New York’s International Center of Photography, which recognizes major contributions and emerging talent in the fields of photojournalism, art, fashion photography, and publishing.

Highlighting Muholi’s residency at Hollins will be an exhibition of her work in the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, February 8 – April 22. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will open with a presentation by Muholi on Thursday, February 8, at 6 p.m.

Muholi will also headline a symposium, “Becoming Visible – A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Lives,” on Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14, in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center. In addition to programs with Muholi, Boy Erased author Garrard Conley, and local  LGBTQ+ activist Gregory Rosenthal, the symposium will include a screening of the documentary film Born This Way and an open microphone session where members of the audience can comment and share stories.

“Zanele focuses chiefly on the black South African LGBTQIA+ community,” said Sinazo Chiya of the Stevenson gallery in South Africa, “but the significance of her work reverberates outwards to celebrate queer and marginalised communities the world over, which is crucial in our turbulent and often divisive social climate.”

Muholi is represented by the Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York City.

 

 

 


Islamic Art Loan Immerses Students in Object-Based Learning

Professor of Art Kathleen Nolan’s Islamic Art class is engaging in hands-on research with rare artifacts from the Near East, thanks to a loan of decorative objects from a West Virginia museum to Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.

The Wilson Museum borrowed objects from the Huntington Museum of Art’s extensive collection of Near Eastern art, including rugs, pouring vessels, a traveling scribe set, a dish, a manuscript page firman, and bath sandals that date as far back as the 11th and 12th centuries and originated in Iran, Syria, and Turkey.

Islamic Art Class 1

“I am a big advocate of object-based learning and wanted Hollins students to have the opportunity to work with objects from the Near East. But, we didn’t have any in our permanent collection,” explains Jenine Culligan, curator and director of the Wilson Museum. Prior to coming to Hollins, Culligan was chief curator for 15 years at the Huntington Museum of Art and in 2010 was instrumental in working with Joseph and Omayma Touma on cataloging 400 Near Eastern objects they had donated to the museum. Culligan made arrangements to borrow eight of the objects through mid-December.

“When I found out that Professor Nolan was teaching an Islamic Art class,” she continues, “I broached the idea of allowing the students in the class to do research on these objects.”

NoIslamic Art Class 2lan praises Culligan for her efforts to make the objects available to her class. “The students and I are thrilled to have these. There was great excitement in the vault of the Wilson Museum when we got to experience these objects first-hand.”

Soon after coordinating the research initiative with Nolan, Culligan was approached by Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch about displaying the objects as part of the Appalachia Model Arab League Conference that Hollins is hosting November 10 -12. They will be on view during the conference in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center along with additional Near Eastern objects on loan from the Roanoke community.

“These collaborations between the Wilson Museum and the art history department and the museum and the political science department seemed meant to be,” Culligan says.

 

Photos: Led by Wilson Museum Curator and Director Jenine Culligan, students from Professor Kathleen Nolan’s Islamic Art class investigate some of the Near Eastern objects on loan to the museum.

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