UVa-Wise senior show caps college careers

Mike Still • May 6, 2019 at 9:15 AM

WISE — Three visual arts students at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise are capping their college careers and looking at new opportunities through the annual spring semester Senior Art Show.

Eddie Griggs, Courtney Welch and Haley Ramey displayed their work during the last week of classes at UVa-Wise in the Gilliam Center for the Arts’ gallery. The pieces ranged from Grigg’s ceramics and focus on a technical process called raku, to Welch’s combination of colored pencil work and French literary analysis, to Ramey’s series of paintings dedicated to her unborn daughter.

Griggs, who has exhibited ceramics at the college before, said he decided for his exhibit “Earth and Fire” to try the Raku process to get different effects from his earlier work. After firing the pieces in a kiln at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, Griggs put the hot pieces into a barrel of sawdust and other combustible materials and starved it of oxygen.

The raku process gives Griggs’ work various metallic tones, he said, but the process was risky.

“I singed my hair,” he said, grinning.

Welch said she had spent much of her time in art classes at the college trying to master traditional oil painting and other media before moving into colored pencil work last fall.

“I thought (oil) was more traditional and what one was supposed to do,” Welch said as she showed her series of 13 drawings using Prismacolor wax-based pencils.

After a show last year of what she called “pretty pictures,” Welch said she decided this semester to combine a sense of narrative and drama into her drawings. After Googling “dramatic,” she found Georges Polti, a literary scholar who described 36 basic situations in drama.

Welch also used her memories of an old video game, “Fable II,” and from there she developed her final college exhibit, “And So Our Story Begins.”

Haley Ramey got her inspiration after learning she was pregnant during winter break before this semester. Naming her exhibit “Rosie” after her future daughter, Rosalie, Ramey combined printmaking, chalk pastels and papermaking with pulp from the abaca tree and bits or whole rose petals to create landscapes with a hint of how she was growing with Rosalie.

“Having such great emotion motivates my work and [I] did not think anything greater than dedicating a series to her,” Ramey said in the information sheet posted with her exhibit.

Art professor Suzanne Adams-Ramsey, who has overseen much of Griggs’, Welch’s and Ramey’s development, said the shows help students not only develop their work but communicate what they are trying to achieve through public artists’ talks when the shows open each semester.

“Their art is the result of dedication to their process,” Adams-Ramsey said. “People don’t realize the hours and hours of work involved, and they have been very dedicated.”

Griggs credited Adams-Ramsey with pushing him to develop.

“She centered me and got me focused on what I wanted to do,” Griggs said. “I learned a lot about problem solving. I wondered what would happen if you did this, and she said, ‘Why not do this?’ ”

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