An Artistic Homecoming
50th Anniversary Alumni Show features work by some of Virginia Wesleyan’s most gifted grads
By Leona Baker | August 25, 2011
They may represent different generations and different disciplines, but the artists being featured in an upcoming special exhibition in the Neil Britton Art Gallery, located in the Hofheimer Library on the campus of Virginia Wesleyan College, have at least one thing in common: They’re all Marlins.
Part of the College’s half-century celebrations, the 50th Anniversary Alumni Show kicks off August 26, 2011 and runs through November 3. An opening reception will be held in the gallery from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 8. This event is free and open to the public.
The exhibit will feature work in a variety of mediums including painting, photography, ceramics and mixed media and represent Wesleyan graduates from all five decades of the College’s existence.
“The 50th Anniversary Alumni Show will include artists that range in age from their 20s to their 80s,” says Associate Professor of Art and Curator of Exhibitions John Rudel. “It will be a wonderful event to highlight a wide range of individual creative talents and an overall shared connection to VWC.”
Among the alumni whose work will be included in the show are several who have gone on to successful careers as working artists. Will Corr is a nationally known Florida-based abstract painter whose work is in numerous corporate and private collections across the country. Christine Harris’ exquisitely detailed mixed media sculptures combine her interest in art, psychology and social issues and have landed her numerous awards and regional exhibitions.
Photographer Larry Strauss, another alumni artist whose work will be featured in the show, says his interest in photography and fascination with the natural world solidified during his time at VWC in the early 1970s.
“Wesleyan allowed me to explore and advance my skills,” Strauss explains. “This was before digital, and I joined a photography club here, used the darkroom facilities and shot pictures for the yearbook. I also used my photographs to add another dimension to my studies and classes.”
His striking black and white photograph of desolate, leafless tree, the piece that will appear in the show, is the result of creativity and patience.
“I waited for this rainy, winter day, very uncomfortable, but the conditions were perfect for the picture I wanted.”
Karen Aneiro remembers her time in the VWC Art Department of the 1990s as transformative. She is particularly indebted, she says, to the encouragement and mentorship of Barclay Sheaks and Neil Britton, both late VWC art professors. She remembers taking a painting class with Sheaks in which there were some art students along with others who had no experience or artistic bent whatsoever.
“By the end of the semester they were all painting like artists,” she recalls. “He recognized that everybody has an artist inside of them, and he knew how to bring that out.”
Her own artistic journey has lead to rewarding work in the arenas of fine art and museum education. Most of her mixed media sculptures are equine in nature—another of her passions being raising horses and other animals on her farm in New Kent County, Virginia. The suspended horse sculpture she fashioned out of various metals, polymer and colored glass (she purposely included some VWC blue for the occasion) will greet gallery goers near the entrance when the alumni art show opens this week.
The alumni show will be a chance for visitors to experience the artistic talents of Wesleyan graduates like Aneiro, but it will also be an opportunity for former students to reconnect.
“I think the Art Department at VWC has always been and continues to be a supportive, close-knit environment,” says John Rudel. “An event like this should reinforce that feeling and hopefully bring our alumni closer.’
50th Anniversary Alumni Art Exhibition Artists
Karen Aneiro ’92
Robyn Bailey ’98
Pamela Barber ’11
Ryan Billy ’09
Wendy Boyle ’92
Nick Bottis ’98
Phyllis Canupp ’05
Brad Cashman ’02
Will Corr ’94
Nancy Dooley ’11
Marion Harrigan ’91
Christine Harris ’92
Shirley Hurd Anderson ’91
Paul Kumpf ’90
Brian LaBarr ’09
Beverly Mayfield ’99
Elizabeth Middleton ’91
Morgan Miller ’11
Scott Roberts ’08
William Rogers ’81
Lorrie Saunders ’79
Clayton Singleton ’94
Larry Strauss ’74
Megan Thacker ’10
Hank Turner '11
Nancy Zigler ’77 (Deceased)
About the Neil Britton Gallery
The 1,200 square-foot Neil Britton Gallery opened in 2009 and is committed to engaging both the Hampton Roads and College communities in the visual arts through changing exhibitions and programs that include the work of both professional artists and students. Operating hours: Sat. & Sun. noon- 5 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., and Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
For more information about the VWC 50th Anniversary Alumni Art Exhibition or the Neil Britton Gallery, contact John Rudel at 757.455.3257 or e-mail .