Gift To Wilson Museum’s Permanent Collection Honors Hollins Staff Member

An anonymous donor has made possible a gift to the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum in tribute to a longtime Hollins employee.

Alex Trower ’86, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees, announced that two paintings would be added to the museum’s permanent collection “to honor the wonderful work and deep commitment of our own Brook Dickson.” Dickson, who serves as executive assistant to the president and secretary for the Board of Trustees, is retiring from Hollins on June 30.

“Recognizing Brook’s extraordinary contribution to Hollins,” Trower explained, “the donor worked with Jenine Culligan, director of the museum, to select artwork she believed Brook would admire.”

The first piece, by artist/naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian, is from Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suraname, printed in 1705. “Throughout her life, Merian observed, sketched, wrote about, and beautifully portrayed the life cycles of insects, especially caterpillars and butterflies,” Trower said. “Between Art and Science: Maria Sibylla Merian was an exhibit at the Wilson Museum in the fall of 2016, and Brook was very interested in this work.”

The second painting is “Siena” by Alison Hall, who graduated from Hollins in 2001. She served as visiting assistant professor of art, painting, and drawing at the university from 2005 – 2013 and also directed Hollins’ summer study abroad program in Todi, Italy.

“Hall’s practice is rooted in ritual, meditation, and repetition,” Trower noted. “Her works are captivating in their formal complexity and subtlety. From a distance, her paintings may appear like monochrome color-field works. On a closer look, the paintings reveal unfathomable intricate geometric patterns as light plays across the surface.”

Dickson graduated from Hollins in 1995 and joined the school’s staff that same year. “Over the years she has truly inspired all of us who have been fortunate to know her as a co-worker and a friend,” said Hollins President Pareena Lawrence. Along with serving seven presidents and the Board of Trustees, and supporting the development of four strategic plans, Dickson oversaw planning for an array of campus events ranging from Hollins’ transition from a college to a university, presidential inaugurations, and the 175th anniversary celebration, to the restoration of Beale Garden, bringing distinguished speakers to campus, and organizing with Roanoke College the annual Perry F. Kendig Awards, which honor the quality and diversity of arts and culture in the Roanoke Valley. She has also helped advance the university’s environmental initiatives, grow connections within the Roanoke community, and steward major donors.

“Throughout her 24 years here, Brook has personified steady leadership in the president’s office,” Lawrence added. “Content to work behind the scenes, she exemplifies quiet dignity and unshakable perseverance. She will be deeply missed.”

 

Photo (left to right): Suzy Mink ’74, vice president for external relations; Kerry Edmonds, vice president for finance and administration; Brook Dickson ’95, executive assistant to the president and secretary for the Hollins University Board of Trustees; Kurt Navratil, Dickson’s husband; and Laura Jane Ramsburg, assistant director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, with the two paintings given in Dickson’s honor to the Wilson Museum’s permanent collection.


With Gratitude To Her Parents and Professors, Yitazba Largo-Anderson ’19 Finds “The Power Of My Voice”

When deciding on a college, Yitazba Largo-Anderson ’19 needed to look no further than her own family for sound advice. “My dad is a professor and my mom is a librarian, and they value education,” she explains. “They urged me to go to a liberal arts school because they knew it would help me round out who I am as a person.”

The campus beauty and “a really strong creative writing program” are what Yitazba says drew her particularly to Hollins after living most of her life in Phoenix, Arizona. “I came here not knowing what I wanted to study, I’m interested in so many things,” she adds. After taking classes from several disciplines, she chose to major in English with a concentration in multicultural literature and a minor in social justice.

Yitazba describes her Hollins experience as “finding the power of my voice,” and she cites the crucial roles many faculty members have played in that quest. “[Professor of English] TJ Anderson, [Professor of English] Pauline Kaldas, and [former Visiting Assistant Professor of English] Nick Miller challenged me to think differently and critically about literature, how it was going to impact me, and what I was going to take from it.”

Those lessons deeply influenced the ways she has transformed her love of writing poetry.

“Poetry to me is not only something you read or that’s visual. It’s also very sensory. I love doing music with my poetry.”

Yitazba’s talent for expression evolved when she met Mary Eggleston, a voice instructor in Hollins’ music department. “I had never taken voice lessons before, and Mary helped me come out of my shell with singing. I’ve never had someone teach me how to challenge my voice to go higher than it did the week before, or become a sound that carries in a room.” This spring for the first time, she sang opera for a campus recital.

Last year, Yitazba felt another important breakthrough while participating in theatre. “Hollins professors make suggestions to one another about students who could benefit from some activity. [Professor of Anthropology and Gender and Women’s Studies] LeeRay Costa talked to Rachel Nelson in the theatre department about asking me to play a part in a production she was directing. I’m shy and I never considered being on stage, but I loved it. I want to speak my poetry more now in public, and instead of just submitting my work for publication, I’d like to get into slam poetry.”

Yitazba’s roots are Scotch-Irish and Diné (the Navajo Nation’s preferred name, it translates to “of the people”), and while she has always been attached to Native American culture through her grandmother, she never had the opportunity to engage in a serious exploration of Native American studies until she came to Hollins. “It was the first time I had ever experienced a whole class dedicated to Native American women and taught by a Native American woman, [Visiting Instructor of Sociology] Shari Valentine.”

Yitazba will spend the next year engaged in a fellowship at the College of William and Mary’s Swem Library. She’ll be working with their Project Outreach initiative on making inclusivity and diversity more prevalent in academic research. She then hopes to attend law school and focus on some aspect of Native American law, but doesn’t intend to make a legal career her lifelong vocation.

“I’d like to get an M.F.A. in creative writing after law school and eventually teach Native American voice through poetry in conjunction with Native American studies. My parents and my professors have all inspired me – Shari Valentine has especially been a constant source of encouragement, and I want to make an impact on a student like she’s done for me. I want to pass that gift down to someone.”

 


Discovering Her Passion at Hollins, Mary Daley ’19 Heads To Grad School At Vanderbilt

She describes it as “kind of a running joke” between herself and the Office of Admission, but no one can say Mary Daley ’19 wasn’t diligent in researching Hollins before enrolling at the university.

“I first found Hollins during my sophomore year of high school when I was just starting to look at colleges and I visited about once a month for the rest of the time that I was in high school,” she recalls. “I also did the Hollinsummer creative writing program. Everyone I met – students and faculty – I loved.”

But while Daley was certain about Hollins, she wasn’t as sure initially about what she wanted to study. Having become a classical painter as a middle schooler and then engaging with portrait photography in high school, the visual arts were a passion for her. So was building relationships with others: As a student at North Raleigh Christian Academy in North Carolina, she was drawn to counseling as a result of helping others in their spiritual journeys.

“Coming into Hollins, I was looking at combining art and psychology and becoming an art therapist,” she explains, “but ultimately I decided this wasn’t what I wanted to do. During the first semester of my sophomore year, I took a class in every department on campus in which I was interested. I landed in [Professor of Practice – Business] Karen Messer-Bourgoin’s marketing class and just fell in love with the subject. I even did my own marketing research projects for fun.”

Daley says she knew she would have that kind of flexibility at Hollins, which “wouldn’t have been afforded me at other schools.” She developed an interest in business-to-consumer marketing after performing a Signature Internship with Atlanta-based Scout, an advertising agency that focuses on healthcare and consumer goods.

“It was a different project every day and multiple projects every day, which is the kind of thing I enjoy,” she says.

Next fall, Daley will begin an advanced degree in marketing at Vanderbilt University. “I had the same feeling walking onto their campus and into the Owen Graduate School of Management as I did when I first visited Hollins.”

Even though Daley chose not to pursue art therapy at Hollins, the activities that were key in considering that career have remained important. As a sophomore, she interned with Roanoke’s Boyd-Pearman Photography. “That was when my photography skills went from ‘mediocre’ to ‘there’s something there.’” Daley has photographed weddings and senior portraits as a freelancer, and has worked extensively on behalf of Hollins’ marketing department.

Since her sophomore year, Daley has served as student chaplain, helping to plan events for duPont Chapel and provide a support system for the campus community. “It’s not my style to just go up to students and ask, ‘Are you okay? Do you want to talk?’ But, students will come to me, whether it’s spiritually related or they just need some guidance or someone to listen. Sometimes we may seem a little more approachable since we’re peers. It’s just been great to build those relationships and facilitate feelings of belonging.”

Daley also discovered a creative way to boost students’ spirits, one that landed her a spot on the website Women You Should Know. “I make bottle cap pins with inspirational messages and hand them out to students. [University Chaplain] Jenny Call has a huge vase of them in her office. It’s just a simple way of saying, ‘Here’s a little something to brighten your day and remind you that you’re loved and you’re important.’”


Hollins Honored For Best Undergraduate Theatre Program in Virginia

One of the world’s most-read theatre websites has named Hollins Theatre as the top undergraduate theatre program in Virginia.

OnStage Blog, which covers theatre on an international level, features Hollins in the 2019 edition of “The Best Undergraduate Theatre Programs in Each State.”

“Every year, OnStage Blog deep dives into college theatre programs to find what we feel are some of the best in the nation,” the website explains. “While the perfect program is the one that fits best with the student, schools can become that fit with fantastic facilities, strong faculty, [and] multiple performance opportunities, among other things. In truth, there are some schools that do that better than others and should be recognized for it.”

“There are some really terrific programs in our state, so this is quite an honor,” said Ernie Zulia, artistic director and chair of the Hollins theatre department. “I thank our incredible theatre faculty and staff for their brilliance and hard work. They are what makes us shine.”

In its review, OnStage Blog touts Hollins for the internship opportunities it offers “at some of the country’s most prestigious professional theatres, including: Cleveland Play House, Houston’s Alley Theatre, Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage, New York’s Amas Musical Theatre, and Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Theatre. Other internships are being arranged at theatres around the country on a regular basis.”


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 Presents “20th Century Photographs from the Rugaber Collection,” Feb. 21 – April 28

More than 50 black-and-white works by prominent photographers are featured in the exhibition 20th Century Photographs from the Rugaber Collection, which will be on display Feburary 21 – April 28 in the Main Gallery of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University.

Loaned to the museum by Walter and Sally Rugaber, the collection includes historic landscape, architectural, and portrait photography from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) program instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to promote effective photojournalism. Many of the images have become icons of American photography.

The FSA was created in 1937 as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal and was intended to provide technical assistance to farmers and catalyze sustainable agriculture. The policy employed photographers to visit communities across the country and document the everyday life and deprivation of families and laborers affected by the Great Depression. The program resulted in some of the most influential photographs of the period, sending shock waves throughout the nation. FSA photographers in the exhibit include Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott, and others.

Among the documentary and journalistic photography on view are images of wearied American child laborers at work. These photographs galvanized citizens and politicians alike to strengthen labor laws and pass the Fair Labor Standards Act. There are also images that document citizens in prominent civil rights protests and demonstrations.

Other highlights of the exhibit include photographs of French and British cathedrals and street scenes that capture a glimpse of an urban environment before the onset of modernization. In contrast, the exhibit also showcases landscape photography, much of it Southern-based, including works by Hollins alumna Sally Mann, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Paul Caponigro.

Walter and Sally Rugaber are longtime supporters of the arts in the Roanoke Valley and have lived in southwest Virginia since 1982, during which time Walter Rugaber worked as publisher and president of The Roanoke Times and Landmark Publishing Group. Additionally, he served on the Hollins Board of Trustees from 1993 – 2007, and was interim president of the university in 2001 – 2002. The Rugabers purchased their first photograph from the FSA era on a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and note, “We certainly didn’t intend to become ‘collectors’…somewhere in there we decided we loved those scenes from the 1930s and wanted more of them.”

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Wilson Museum will  present a lecture and reception with Denise Bethel, former chairman of Photographs Americas at Sotheby’s, New York, on Thursday, April 18, at 6 p.m. in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center.

This exhibit is sponsored in part by the City of Roanoke through the Roanoke Arts Commission.

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m., and Thursdays, noon – 8 p.m. Admission is always free.

 

Image: Marion Post Wolcott, Bayou Bourbeaux Plantation, 1940. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Walter and Sally Rugaber. Photo by Kyra Schmidt. 


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.


Hollins Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Brings Immersive Experience to Shakespeare’s Crowd-Pleaser, Nov. 28 – Dec. 1

Hollins Theatre is presenting a lively and novel production of one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream…in Motion!, a 60-minute express version of the play that has been charming audiences for more than 420 years, will be staged as an immersive theatre experience in multiple locations throughout the Hollins campus, November 28 – December 1.

“If you think you might enjoy running through the library stacks as if you were in the woods outside Athens chasing fairies, mechanicals, and young lovers, you may want to grab a ticket for this unique theatrical experience,” says Ernie Zulia, chair of the Hollins University theatre department, referencing the final two evenings of the show’s run at Hollins’ Wyndham Robertson Library. “Shakespeare holds a very sacred place on the Hollins campus.”

Jim Warren, distinguished visiting faculty and founding artistic director of the renowned American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., adapted and directs the production “Getting to work with these remarkable Hollins women has been a delight for me. Together we navigated the pleasure of Tinker Day, Ring Night, and a million other commitments that make college life at Hollins such enchanting chaos. Getting to work on this play, with this cast, in this place, and making it a movable feast of the imagination has been an honor and a privilege.”

“What a joy it has been to host this terrific Shakespearean artist here at Hollins,” Zulia adds.

Midsummer will be performed at campus locations on the following dates and times:

Wednesday, November 28, 7:30 p.m.: Upstairs Studio Theatre (must be able to climb stairs)

Thursday, November 29, 7:30 p.m.: Botetourt Reading Room

Friday, November 30, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.: Wyndham Robertson Library (SOLD OUT)

Saturday, December 1, 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.: Wyndham Robertson Library (SOLD OUT)

Admission is $10 general public, and Hollins students, faculty, and staff can obtain one free ticket each. For more information, call the Hollins Theatre Box Office at 362-6517.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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 Connections Highlight Special Stage Event at Mill Mt. Theatre

Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Theatre (MMT) is paying tribute to a member of the Hollins University graduate program faculty by staging one of her acclaimed works for a special fundraising event.

On Saturday, November 10, MMT is presenting the play A Simple Gift by Nancy Ruth Patterson, who teaches in Hollins’ M.F.A. program in children’s book writing and illustrating and is celebrated for her creativity and devotion to her community. The goal of the fundraiser is to supplement generous grants from the Fishburn Foundation and the Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson, Jr. Charitable Foundation Trust to renovate MMT’s Waldron Stage into a “green space” venue. Tickets are $100 per person and can only be purchased in advance by contacting events@millmountain.org. A portion of the ticket price will be a tax-exempt charitable gift to MMT.

A Simple Gift earned recognition as “A love song to the theatre…a love song to life” when it was first produced at MMT nearly a decade ago. The play is the story of two former residents of fictional Brownsville, North Carolina – one who found fame on Broadway and the other who became a children’s writer – who accept an invitation from an old teacher to return to their hometown to put on a performance as a gift to the place that raised them both.

Hollins President Emerita Nancy Gray is among the prominent Roanoke citizens who will be appearing in the play alongside some of MMT’s top veteran actors and several young local actors who are starting their careers.

The one-night-only performance of A Simple Gift will be preceded by a supper of favorites from Chanticleer Catering and an open bar beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Atrium of Center in the Square.