Wilson Museum to Highlight “Images of Social Justice”

A new exhibition at Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is shining the spotlight on concerns related to race, gender, citizenship, culture wars, and the abuse of power.

Images of Social Justice from the Segura Arts Studio, which is on display at the Wilson Museum from September 13 through December 9, features 37 prints created by 17 visiting artists who in their own style tackle either human, animal, or land rights issues.

Joe Segura, who has dedicated his life’s work to working with and promoting artists from underrepresented cultural groups, founded the Segura Publishing Company in 1981 in Tempe, Arizona. He was drawn to marginalized artists: women, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. In 2013, the University of Notre Dame invited him to move his workshop to South Bend, Indiana. Under a new name, Segura Arts Studio, the master printer and publisher dovetailed the studio’s activities with those of academic departments at Notre Dame. He launched a program called “Social Justice in the Visual Arts” that engages incoming students in print workshop activities, including the opportunity to learn collaborative process and meet visiting artists.

Most of the prints in the Wilson Museum exhibition have been created since the move to Indiana. These include:

  • A black and white lino-cut by Elizabeth Catlett titled Mimi
  • Sue Coe’s lithography titled La Frontera
  • Luis Jiminez’s lithograph titled Entre la Puta y Muerta
  • Mixed media works that pair image and text by Luis Gonzales Palma
  • Black and white photogravures by Graciela Dicochea

The first artist to visit the new space in 2013 was Claudia Bernardi. Earlier that year, the International Committee of the Red Cross asked her to conduct and facilitate a collaborative community-based project with youth affected by violence. Later, she was invited to Segura Arts Studio to create a suite of prints. The series, Palabras de Arena/Words of Sand, was inspired by stories she heard and observations she made while working with these children and their community.

Bernardi will discuss how her human rights work informs her creative art work on Wednesday, September 26, at 6 p.m. in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center Auditorium. An opening reception for Images of Social Justice from the Segura Arts Studio will follow.

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

 

Photo caption: Claudia Bernardi, one of the artists whose work is featured in Images of Social Justice, speaks at the Wilson Museum on September 26.

 


WVTF: Hollins Program Cranks Out Hopeful Filmmakers

WVTF Public Radio aired this profile of Hollins University’s graduate programs in screenwriting and film studies, featuring interviews with students Amy Roskelly –Shiovitz, Christie Collins, and Maisie Deely, and program director Tim Albaugh.

“We bring a piece of LA to the Roanoke area,” Albaugh said, noting, “I get a lot more satisfaction now helping a student launch their career than I do with any of the professional work that I do.”

Deely added, “You’re not only connected to your classmates in the current program, but also creating opportunities for alumni to come back, so it’s really exciting to see folks who did the same the same program of study I did who are now working in the industry.”

 

 

Photo Credit: Jeff Bossert, WVTF Public Radio


Film Major’s LGBT Short Is a YouTube Sensation

A Hollins University student filmmaker is generating impressive online buzz with her unconventional approach to the LGBT movie genre.

Collide, a short film written and directed by Hannah Thompson ’20, has been seen more than 510,000 times since it premiered on YouTube in December 2016.

“I wanted to do something original that I could relate to,” says Thompson, a double-major in film and psychology from Warrenton, Virginia. “A lot of LGBT short films are also geared toward a straight audience by featuring two fem lesbians and portraying sexual situations. They can make more money that way, but it has always made me feel uncomfortable.”

Collide is the story of two young women who dislike one another intensely upon their first meeting in a high school classroom. But when their teacher pairs them on a project that focuses on conquering their individual fears, a friendship blossoms and they ultimately fall in love.

“Coming out is not a main plot point,” Thompson explains. “There’s no tragic story where being gay is their downfall. Their sexuality is never mentioned. It’s just something that happens similar to any straight love story. I wanted people to watch Collide and say, ‘Wow, I’ve had this happen to me.’”

Based on the more than 1,100 comments that have been posted on YouTube since the film’s debut, Collide has clearly touched many. Thompson believes it’s because the story “ends happily. We’re excited for what’s to come, and people understand that the two main characters are going to be together. Often, especially in popular films, it doesn’t happen that way. I wanted something that was easy for people to latch onto, and I’m grateful they did.”

Thompson says she’s been humbled by what people have shared. Feedback has often been along the lines of, “I don’t really see happy lesbian stories. I’m so glad to find something relatable instead of watching a heterosexual romance and hoping I can find something that’s meaningful to me.” Viewers overseas have expressed this common sentiment: “This isn’t legal here, but I’m so glad to see something like this. It makes me feel that maybe one day I can have this life.”

The film has also inspired fan fiction and even prompted Halloween revelers to dress up as the film’s characters. In March, Unite UK: An LGBT+ Blog Uniting the Community Together, interviewed Thompson and members of the film’s cast for a feature story, and last summer, Collide was an official selection as a semi-finalist at Canada’s Our Voices Film Festival.

Thompson’s journey of artistic discovery that ultimately led to filmmaking was by no means pre-determined. She attended art classes and camps from an early age, “but I couldn’t find the thing I was best at. I did theatre, studio art, photography, and I was mediocre at all those things. I never really found what I loved until I took a film class at Hollins.”

Growing up, Thompson was familiar with Hollins because her grandmother is an alumna. In her early teens, at her grandmother’s urging, Thompson attended Hollinsummer, the university’s educational camp for rising ninth through 12th grade girls. “I was scared because it was my first sleepaway camp,” she recalls, “but I loved the campus. It was the first time I’d ever been away from home that I wasn’t homesick. I felt like it was sort of my place.”

That impression still resonated with Thompson when she was applying to colleges a few years later. “Even though I had been at Hollins a lot, I went ahead and did a real campus tour. I remember turning to my mom and saying, ‘This is it.’”

Thompson initially thought she’d major only in psychology, but her artistic drive persisted despite her previous frustrations. Since film was a genre she had not actively pursued previously, she decided to enroll in a video production class her first year. “I was nervous because it was the first film class I had ever taken. I worried, ‘What if this doesn’t go well for me?’ I don’t like not being good at things.”

Fortunately, Thompson quickly found an ally in Amy Gerber-Stroh, associate professor of film and chair of Hollins’ film department. An accomplished filmmaker in her own right, Gerber-Stroh helped Thompson build her confidence and realize film making was the artistic outlet she had been seeking.

“Amy has changed my life in so many different ways. Coming into Hollins, I was afraid I wasn’t going to find the thing I could pour my entire heart into. I felt like I had so much to say and I didn’t know where to put it.”

With guidance from Gerber-Stroh and other faculty as well as the support of her fellow film students, Thompson says she “has a home in the film department. It’s this place where I can be myself and share my art. Sometimes you have to do that when your work is incomplete and therefore at its most vulnerable, but I’ve learned that’s okay because students and mentors are always there to help, especially when you’re flustered and your ideas aren’t working out.”

Thompson now has four films available online. Another short, August and the Rain Boots (2017), is similar to Collide in that it tells the story of a friendship that grows into a romantic relationship and ends on a celebratory note. The film boasts more than 192,000 YouTube views and was recently selected to appear at the Oregon Cinema Arts Film Festival.

“Hannah has become such a superstar through our film program,” Gerber-Stroh says. “It’s remarkable how often she gets requests from advertisers, actors, and others from the film industry asking for a chance to work with her. She epitomizes this new era of how students make films and videos and how they show their work.”

Thompson plans to go to Los Angeles after graduating from Hollins. “I want to be a director for the rest of my life, telling my stories and working with amazing people.”

 

Photo caption: Hannah Thompson ’20 shoots a scene for her 2017 short film, August and the Rain Boots. 


Wilson Museum Celebrates the Work of Roanoke Artist Eric Fitzpatrick

Born and raised in Roanoke, Eric Fitzpatrick is among southwest Virginia’s most beloved artists, renowned for his paintings of landmark buildings, local hangouts, street scenes. and area musicians and personalities. His work is in private, corporate, and museum collections throughout the United States and worldwide.

From July 12 – September 23, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is presenting Eric Fitzpatrick: Southern Culture Series, an exhibition reflecting the artist’s creativity over more than 35 years.

Fascinated by the way Southerners are taught to view their past, Fitzpatrick turns his characteristic style to exploring those defining stereotypes in his Southern Culture Series. Bordering on caricature, this work exaggerates these stereotypes, forcing the viewer to confront their own (often unconscious) assumptions.

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

 


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.


Wilson Museum Exhibition Highlights the Artwork of “Four Fur Feet”

Partnering with a local nonprofit that promotes reading to children, three Hollins professors in 2017 transformed an unpublished work by a beloved children’s author and Hollins alumna into an interactive tool for parents and caregivers.

Now, ten original gouache paintings by acclaimed children’s illustrator Ruth Sanderson along with sketches and a storyboard for the book will be featured in the exhibition “Four Fur Feet: A Hollins Collaborative Early Literacy Project,” which will be on display at Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, May 31 – September 2.

Written by Margaret Wise Brown ’32, author of such children’s classics as Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, the Four Fur Feet manuscript was discovered in the university archives and developed into an educational book by Associate Professor of Education Anna Baynum and Assistant Professor of Psychology Tiffany Pempek, co-directors of the Early Literacy Project at Hollins. Sanderson, who has illustrated over 80 children’s books and is co-director of the M.F.A. program in children’s book writing and illustrating, was asked by Baynum and Pempek to create pictures for the book.

Hollins and Turn the Page, a Roanoke-based organization whose mission is increasing awareness of the benefits of reading with children during the first three years of life, subsequently gave Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital 5,000 free copies of Four Fur Feet to be distributed to every mom who delivers a baby there.

“Four Fur Feet: A Hollins Collaborative Early Literacy Project” can be seen in the Wilson Museum’s Main Gallery. The museum will host an opening reception and book signing on Friday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Wetherill Visual Arts Center’s first floor lobby.

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

 

 


With Self-Portraits, Studio Art Major Finds Emotional Connection, Career Catalyst

Each spring, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University showcases the work of seniors who are majoring in studio art. The exhibition is the final requirement for art students earning their Bachelor of Arts degree and is the capstone experience of their yearlong senior project.

Among the six artists featured in the 2018 Senior Majors Exhibition, which was on display May 8 – 20, was Horizon student Brittany Lewis. In her capstone project, she drew a series of self-portraits displaying all her different moods using grisaille painting, a centuries-old technique that emphasizes shades of gray and creates the semblance of sculpture.

“In this installation, I explored the different sides of my personality that collectively form myself via black and white portrait painting,” Lewis explains in her artist statement. “The contrasting values effectively elevate the drama and emotion of the paintings, and so, I divulge the most vulnerable parts of myself that I often keep masked away, as well as parts I unapologetically express. The various grays within the paintings parallel the many facets that exist within me, reiterating the notion that there is no black and white definition for one’s true self.”

Remarkably, Lewis notes that she only started realistic painting during this past academic year. “I found that I really enjoy oil painting and portraiture, and I wanted to explore those techniques further.” She had never before thought of herself as an interesting subject for her art work, but felt that in doing so for her capstone experience, “I would be more connected to the new media I was trying to master, and more connected to myself emotionally.”

By smoothing out brushstrokes and detailing specific features, Lewis says she paints “with hyper-realistic qualities. As I pull emotion from the static images, I intensify them by using dramatic lighting and enhancing specific parts of my face, like my eyes or the curves of my mouth. I enjoy realistic painting and connecting different emotions to my portraits. My art then evolves into more than just replicating the facts that I see.”

Horizon is Hollins’ adult baccalaureate degree program for women who are at least 24 years of age, and Lewis credits it and director Mary Ellen Apgar for giving her encouragement and understanding whenever she needed it. “Horizon was actually one of the reasons I came to Hollins. I felt like my struggles as an adult student, balancing work, school, and home life, would be best understood within the program, and that I would be helped along the way.

“I was also drawn to Hollins’ friendly environment and by my best friend Azra Mezit, who is an alumna and works at the university as the admissions data coordinator. She told me how much she loved the campus and that I would feel right at home, and she was right. I couldn’t have asked for a better institution to call my home away from home.”

Lewis’ goal is to become an illustrator and in the meantime hopes to find a job in an art-related field. In any event, she says, “I will continue painting and learning on my own.”


Dance Major Taking Commitment to Artistry, Social Justice to L.A. and London after Graduation

Epitomizing Hollins University’s enduring slogan artistically, geographically, and academically, Paris Williams ’18 is definitely going places after she graduates this spring.

The dance major, who hails from New Orleans, will be pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in choreography beginning in the fall of 2019 at London’s University of Roehampton, whose international status draws students and dance artists from around the world.

But before that, Williams is anticipating a very exciting and productive gap year more than 5,400 miles away. First, she’s been awarded a full scholarship to attend the Dance/USA 2018 Annual Conference, which takes place June 6 – 9 in Los Angeles. According to the conference website, the event enables participants to “network and learn from nearly 500 dance professionals including executive directors, artistic directors, emerging arts leaders, artists, agents, company managers, presenters, development and marketing staff, and more. Conference programming is shaped around issues of equity and justice, community and collaboration, audience development, and preservation and legacy.”

Then, Williams will remain in L.A. to complete a residency with No)one. Art House, an arts/dance collective that The Huffington Post reports “is one of the only black run contemporary dance organizations in the country. No)one’s aim is to shift the paradigm on how people view dance, art and people of color’s bodies….” Artsmeme.com called No)one, “another harbinger that incredible things are happening in dance in Los Angeles.”

Williams’ upcoming opportunities in Los Angeles and London are the culmination of a distinguished college career.

“During my time at Hollins,” she says, “I have interned twice with our M.F.A. program in dance, including going to the program’s residency in Frankfurt, Germany. I also took part in the Hollins London abroad program, and have been able to attend a variety of conferences on topics surrounding LGBTQ+, dance and performance, and other social justice initiatives.”

This year, Williams served as chair of the university’s Black Student Alliance and has also been the external chair for the Hollins Repertory Dance Company. During her four years she was also actively involved with Cultural and Community Engagement, the Batten Leadership Institute, the Office of Admissions, Housing and Residence Life, the Office of Student Affairs, and many other campus activities.

“Paris is a tireless leader and social justice advocate,” says Meredith Cope-Levy ’12, M.F.A. ’18, Hollins’ coordinator of alumnae events. “She has made incredible work during her time here.”

Williams in turn praises the Hollins dance program for providing her with the foundation for her accomplishments as an undergraduate.

“I give loads of love and gratitude to HollinsDance, especially [Associate Professor of Dance] Jeffery Bullock, for my dedication, growth, and success at this university.”


Student, Faculty Performers Take Center Stage at Spring Dance Works

A Hollins tradition continues as the university celebrates creativity and artistry in movement at the 2018 Spring Dance Works, which will be held Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5, at 8 p.m. each evening in the Hollins Theatre. Admission is free.

The two-night event represents the culmination of studio practice efforts, scholarly research, and creative choreographic/performance compositions of students and faculty in the dance program. This year’s program also features a special performance by the Shenandoah Contemporary Dance Theatre.

At Hollins, dance majors learn to think of dance as a dynamic form, full of possibilities for growth and innovation. Members of the dance community are encouraged to discover, refine, and celebrate who they are as artists. The program offers outstanding technique classes and an international visiting-artist roster. Opportunities to perform and craft are abundant.

 


Senior Thesis, Film Short Screenings Showcase Student Filmmakers

Over the past four years, senior film majors at Hollins have honed their craft through a variety of hands-on, on-campus opportunities. These students will conclude their undergraduate careers by screening their senior thesis films and screenplays on Wednesday and Thursday, May 2 and 3, from 7 – 8 p.m. in the Wetherill Visual Arts Center’s Niederer Auditorium.

“We teach a comprehensive curriculum for film studies and for film/video production. Other schools don’t always invest in all these disciplines under one roof,” explains Amy Gerber-Stroh, associate professor of film and chair of the Hollins film department. “Very few schools in the nation offer an undergraduate all-woman film program, particularly a program that includes film/video production.”

This year’s senior thesis screenings include:

Wednesday, May 2

Honey Bear’s Big Adventure by Rachel Harris (animation)
A young bear fails at her attempts to talk to a cute bunny who brings the mail every day. It’s not until Honey Bear saves the world that she can summon the courage to ask Bunny-Boo out.

Homeless in Bolivia by Annalise Kiser (documentary)
Shalom, an organization in Bolivia, takes in homeless and neglected children. This film reflects on stories about dedicated volunteers and the children who seek refuge.

Dust Buddies by Allison Moore (scene reading of screenplay pilot)
Maxa Thousand is an anthropomorphic armadillo who enjoys solitude in the Grand Stretch until he meets AcroBat, a girl bat who is trapped at a circus and begs Maxa to break her out.

In These Woods by Nia Orellana (narrative)
Kevin, a young cryptid, is ready to explore the human world, finding allies to help him and those who would like nothing better than to see him dead.

Conspiracy by Seph Reid (scene readings of feature screenplay)
On the anniversary of his sister’s death, an old friend shows up at Mark’s workplace with a shocking secret.

Thursday, May 3

The Souls Within by James Stewart (scene readings of feature screenplay)
Sarah is a new kid in school who is miserable until she meets a boy named Zim. When they discover a strange book in the library, their lives change forever.

Frankie & June by Leiana Valenzuela (narrative)
Amidst a surreal landscape of Los Angeles, flighty June must overcome her fear of love in order to accept herself and her feelings for her best friend Frankie.

Appetite by Delaney Walker (animation)
A boy named Johnny accepts a job as a groundskeeper’s apprentice. All he has to do is assist in routine trimmings, yard work, and orange harvesting. How bad could it be?

We Are Here to Stay by Sydney Williams (documentary)
A film that explores the meaning of transgender and the reasons why transmen students choose to attend single-gendered institutions.

 

In addition, the Hollins film department will present film shorts made by the Spring Term 2018 film production classes on Friday, May 11, from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Admission to all three screenings is free and open to the public.