Wilson Museum Presents “Seeds from the East: The Korean Adoptee Portrait Project”

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is featuring the exhibition “Seeds from the East: The Korean Adoptee Portrait Project,” September 29 – December 11.

“Seeds from the East” showcases the work of A.D. Herzel, an internationally recognized artist, educator, designer, and writer who lives in Blue Ridge, Virginia. She is also a Korean adoptee who explores her identity and creates community through her art.

“This exhibit presents graphite portraits of Korean adoptees accompanied by silhouettes executed in gold ink and drawings of flowers, seeds, spirals, and other imagery specific to each portrait,” explained Wilson Museum Director Jenine Culligan. “Herzel offers her art as a way to help process grief and trauma, as well as to join the larger conversation about place and belonging in immigrant communities across the globe.”

In 1970, Herzel was among three Korean children (two girls and a boy) who were adopted by the Holt family, who also sponsored about 50 other children for adoption. She noted, “It has taken me 50 years to give light to the shadow of my adoption story. This current flowering moment, rooted and wrapped in the tendrils of history, is seeded by the currents of global, religious, and political history. My story, though textured with facets, divets, and spikes, is just one story in the Korean diaspora and one of the many American immigration stories worth telling.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, Herzel will deliver an artist lecture at the Wilson Museum on Saturday, October 1, at 2:30 p.m. A reception will follow. In addition, she will present a youth workshop entitled “Identity Development through Writing and Art Making” on Saturday, November 12, from 2 – 5 p.m., also at the museum. The workshop is intended for young adults ages 12-22 and delves into concepts of self-discovery through art and writing. Herzel will guide participants through investigative processes to help understand and clarify questions of belonging and becoming, especially for youth in adoptive or foster families. Registration for the workshop is required; contact Kyra Schmidt at schmidtka@hollins.edu or 540-362-6496.

The Wilson Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Admission is always free.


Hollins Professor’s Latest Film Earns Prestigious Sponsorship from Women Make Movies

The new production from a Hollins University film professor is receiving major support from the world’s leading distributor of independent films by and about women.

Associate Professor of Film Amy Gerber-Stroh’s Hope of Escape has earned official sponsorship from Women Make Movies (WMM), a nonprofit media arts organization based in New York City. For 50 years, WMM has backed women directors and producers in an effort to promote a diverse and inclusive filmmaking landscape.

“Hundreds of films by women have been made with the help of WMM’s Production Assistance Program,” Gerber-Stroh explained. Along with fiscal sponsorship, the program “offers professional development, nonprofit tax-exempt status, consultations, and workshops. Films and filmmakers supported by the organization have won Academy Awards, Emmys, and prizes at major film festivals worldwide.”

Currently in post-production, Hope of Escape is based on the true story of the journey of an enslaved mother and daughter who must escape before they are sold and separated forever. Their only hope is to connect with their free relatives in the North and convince the most powerful abolitionists of their time to help them.

Hope of Escape champions the enslaved American heroes and abolitionist allies who, leading up to the Civil War, were willing to take on immense risk in order to combat the wretchedness of slavery,” Gerber-Hope of Escape PosterStroh said. “As a descendant of slaves, I wish to add a different perspective to the lesser-known story of our collective historical memory by shining light onto the ‘above-ground railroad’ where slave masters were paid ‘ransoms’ (much like how Frederick Douglass gained his freedom) by families, mostly in the North, in order to free their enslaved relatives.”

Gerber-Stroh noted that “it ‘took a village’ to fundraise and emancipate a slave. Hope of Escape shows how my own family depended on a complex network of abolitionists, both inside and outside the United States. We see how, even though separated for many years and by thousands of miles, families (both free and enslaved) managed to keep their connections, holding onto hope that their circumstances would change for the better.”

Researching and making Hope of Escape has been a profoundly moving experience for Gerber-Stroh. “It has taught me that the women in my family, as well as women in scores of other families, did indeed resist with fierce hope in their hearts during slavery times. They courageously persevered so that their descendants (like me) can keep fighting and hopefully someday escape the national nightmare of institutional slavery and its lasting consequences. In a small way, my film is part of that fight.”

Gerber-Stroh has written and directed independent films, which focus on the intersection of memory, culture, and history, for over 30 years. Her films have won honors at numerous national and international film festivals. She chairs the film department at Hollins, where she teaches production, animation, and film studies.

 

 


Hollins Professor’s Photographic Work Is Showcased in Bridgewater College Exhibition

Assistant Professor of Art Mary Zompetti will exhibit “The Lost Garden” at Bridgewater College’s Beverly Perdue Art Gallery from August 22 through September 27.

An opening reception will be held on Monday, August 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. with a talk at 5:30 p.m.

A photographic artist, Zompetti utilizes traditional and experimental analog photographic methods to investigate land, home, and environment. Her recent camera-less photographic work explores the delicate and resilient nature of film emulsion exposed to environmental conditions where she collaborates with light, weather, and time to create unique photographs that embrace chance, mistake, and deterioration. “The Lost Garden” series is created by exposing large-format film to environmental conditions over extended periods of time. Wind, rain, ice, and snow alter the film, leaving time- and place-specific impressions.

“My creative process is driven by curious experimentation with analog photographic materials – not in the quest for the perfect, captured moment, but rather for the possibilities that exist when control is relinquished and chance helps guide both the process and questions being asked by the work,” Zompetti said. “This curiosity excites and drives me to push the medium further, seeing what is possible outside the parameters of traditional photographic processes.”

Zompetti received an M.F.A. in visual arts from the Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge, Mass., and a B.F.A. in visual arts from Northern Vermont University. She is a recipient of the 2020 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant in support of new analog, camera-less photographic work, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Mass., the Mjólkurbúðin Gallery in Akureyri, Iceland, and the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y. Zompetti has attended artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and at the Gil Residency in Akureyri, Iceland, and her work is also held in several collections, including the artist book libraries at Yale University and the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity.

The exhibition, opening reception, and artist’s talk are free and open to the public. The gallery, located on the main floor of the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons, is open from 7:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; and noon to midnight on Sunday.

Zompetti appeared on “The Mike Schikman Show” on WSVA Radio in Harrisonburg to talk about the exhibition.

 


Hollins’ Dance M.F.A. Program Moves European Study to Bulgaria’s Cultural Capital

Hollins University’s M.F.A. in dance program is relocating its European Study component to a new home.

Beginning in the summer of 2022, students will travel to Plovdiv, Bulgaria, which is considered by many to be the nation’s cultural hub and in 2019 was named a European Capital of Culture.

“We will have the opportunity to access festivals and arts programming,” said Jeffery Bullock, professor and chair of Hollins’ dance program. “I am excited for our new journey.”

Boyan Manchev
Boyan Manchev

European Study will be organized and curated by Boyan Manchev and Ani Vaseva. Manchev has been a part of the European Study component since it began in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2014, teaching Dance History, Theory, and Criticism. He is a philosopher and professor at New Bulgarian University in Sofia and at Berlin’s HZT – UdK. He has lectured widely at European, North American, and Japanese universities and cultural institutions, and is the author of seven books, including The Body – Metamorphosis (2007), which deals extensively with contemporary art, performance, and dance.

Ani Vaseva
Ani Vaseva

 

 

Vaseva is a theatre director, a playwright, an author of critical and theoretical texts on dance and theatre, and holds a Ph.D. in performance studies from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Her 2017 book, What Is Contemporary Dance, explores the complex processes and conflictual ideologies that stand behind the concept of contemporary dance. Between 2015 and 2018, she taught history and theory of theatre and literature at New Bulgarian University and the Luben Groys Theatre College.

 

 

“We will be in great hands with Boyan and Ani,” Bullock said. “They are both amazing artists and radical thinkers.”

Hollins’ M.F.A. in dance is an innovative program in which students immerse themselves for five weeks during the summer in the intimate learning atmosphere on the Hollins campus, followed by three weeks of international study and immersion in Plovdiv. The program provides students with a wide range of opportunities, mentorships, and exposure to others in the international dance field, and features three tracks: Year Residency, Low Residency – Two Summer, and Low Residency – Three Summer. M.F.A. students and faculty establish a unique community of committed artists/scholars who range in ages and experiences and are working to sustain their careers and deepen their relationship to dance.


Playwright Wendy-Marie Martin M.F.A. ’14 Returns to Hollins as Theatre Department Chair

Talk about a homecoming! Wendy-Marie Martin, who earned both an M.F.A. (2014) and a Certificate in Directing New Work (2017) from the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, returned to her alma mater earlier this year to become chair of Hollins’ theatre department.

“I love this place—I was very excited to come back,” said Martin, a successful playwright, educator, and current Ph.D. candidate in interdisciplinary arts/theatre at Ohio University. “The students at Hollins are great,” Martin said. “They’re interested in things that aren’t necessarily mainstream, which aligns really well with my aesthetic.”

Martin took over for Ernie Zulia, who stepped down last spring after helming the department for 17 years. She recalled that one of the big takeaways from her time as a Hollins grad student was the program’s  encouragement to try new things and learn from failure. “We live in a very perfectionist society,” said Martin. “It’s difficult to give yourself permission to go outside of what you know will be right or successful. We’re in the process of adopting the same attitude in the undergraduate program so that process is seen as equally important to product/performance because we can’t know what’s possible until we give it a shot, and there’s always risk involved.”

Although Martin officially became the new chair this fall, she guest taught a couple of classes in the spring as a part of a gradual transition into her new role. Because of this, Martin had the opportunity to meet with students one-on-one and hear what they were hoping to get out of their time in the program. “One of the things that came up often was more demand for women playwrights,” said Martin. “They also wanted more contemporary work, which is great. That’s right up my alley.”

Martin isn’t exaggerating, either. In her doctoral work at Ohio University, she is focusing on feminist theatre and 20th and 21st century women playwrights, and all theatre productions at Hollins this year will be by non-binary or female-identifying writers.

Speaking of those plays, this semester’s season kicked off back in September with a staged reading of The Orphan Sea by Cardid Svich, which was directed by undergraduate resident professional teaching artist Michelle LoRicco. The next performance to catch will be The Skriker, which will be performed on Hollins Theatre’s Main Stage October 21-24. This 1994 play by Caryl Churchill, which tells the story of the titular fairy Skriker, begins with several pages of nonsensical language. “I was very concerned that the students weren’t going to get through the first three pages because it’s challenging,” said Martin. “But they were all ridiculously excited about it. The students have just been on top of it with offers and ideas on what they want to suggest for the play, which is really exciting.”

Looking even further ahead, Martin’s hoping to expand the theatre program in two different areas. First, she wants to develop a scholarship arm of the department, i.e., getting students to write analytical/critical papers that can be potentially published or presented at conferences for financial aid or scholarships. Second, Martin is seeking to embrace more original work. She plans on doing this by commissioning a play from the Playwright’s Lab and developing it with undergraduates over the course of two years all the way to live production. “That’s one thing that we’re going to try to start doing next year: developing new work over a long period of time,” said Martin. “We have the structure here to do something ambitious like that.”

Martin’s also heavily focused on diversifying the theatre department. That means more diversity training and inclusion as well as an eclectic lineup of guest artists to expand the cultural perspective of the program and better serve its students of color. “Right now that’s where most of my energy is,” said Martin. “It’s a very exciting group of students here who are willing to try new things, and I love that.”

Jeff Dingler is a graduate assistant in Hollins’ marketing and communications department. He is pursuing his M.F.A. in creative writing at the university.

 


New Wilson Museum Exhibition Celebrates Dignity of Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Their Caregivers

 

Through September 19, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is honoring the courage and fortitude of persons living with Alzheimer’s disease, and those who care for them, with the exhibition DIGNIFIED: Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Their Caregivers/Photographs by Patterson Lawson.

 

Dignified: Individuals with Alzheimer's and Their Caregivers
Patterson Lawson, “Marian.” Photograph.

 

 

In 2019, Lawson, a Richmond-based photographer, discovered an interest in documenting individuals and families whose lives were and are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disorder that degrades memory and vital brain functions. He found that, unlike other diseases where individuals are family members actively engage the medical community and devote time, energy, and attention to getting well, many assume a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s means the end of a meaningful life. Lawson writes, “These portraits contradict such perceptions. While the losses are real, people with Alzheimer’s are not empty shells….The subjects’ direct gazes reveal their dignity.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than six million Americans today are living with the disease.

The Wilson Museum is open by appointment.

 

 


Faith Herrington ’22 Awarded Internship with Maryland’s Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland, has named Faith Herrington ’22 as this year’s recipient of the Jean Cushwa College Internship.

The internship is a paid position awarded to one college student who is earning a degree in fine arts, art history, art education, museum studies, or a similar field. Herrington, who is majoring in art history and earning a certificate in arts management at Hollins, will assist the museum’s Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., with curatorial research, exhibition installation, and more, specifically with the summer exhibition Bernini and the Roman Baroque: Masterpieces from Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia.

Herrington describes herself as “a passionate lover of art history” who plans to pursue a career working in art museums. Her past experience includes interning at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, where she researched the museum’s founder, digitized materials, and installed exhibitions. She has traveled to Greece and Italy to conduct art historical research and says the experiences helped her to “appreciate the value of an arts education as a means to explore any subject, time period, philosophy, and culture.” Genevieve Hendricks, associate professor of art history at Hollins, says Herrington is “enthusiastic, inquisitive, and an inspiration for students.”

Founded in 1931, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is the legacy of Hagerstown native Anna Brugh Singer and her husband, Pittsburgh-born artist William Henry Singer, Jr. Featuring a collection of more than 6,000 objects, the museum has important holdings of American painting, Old Masters, decorative arts, and sculpture. The Jean Cushwa College Internship is graciously funded by an endowment from former Singer Society member Jean Cushwa, which allows the museum to participate in the important work of fostering the next generation of arts leadership.


Anna Johnson ’21 Wins National Kennedy Center Award for Excellence in Sound Design

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced that Anna Johnson ’21 is among the national awardees for 2021 of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).

Johnson received the Kennedy Center Award for Excellence in Sound Design for her work on Hollins Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which was presented virtually in October 2020. She and other student artists were selected for outstanding achievement in a range of disciplines from eight virtual regional festivals that were held in January and February of this year. Johnson’s sound design for Curious Incident won first place honors from the KCACTF Region IV, which includes colleges and universities from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Virginia.

Kennedy Center first-place awards for excellence in scenic, costume, lighting, and sound design each come with a $1,000 cash prize.

“This has been a remarkable year that forced students to adapt, and in doing so these students found new ways of working that have expanded their toolkits in ways that will make them stronger artists and change-makers in the field,” said KCACTF Artistic Director Gregg Henry.

A theatre major, Johnson graduated from Hollins in May and will be pursuing an M.F.A. in sound design at the University of Memphis this fall. Read her recent profile, “‘I Know What I Want Things to Sound Like.'” 

KCACTF encourages and celebrates the finest and most diverse theatrical productions from colleges and universities. Through regional and national festivals, KCACTF celebrates the achievements of theatre programs, individual students, and faculty of colleges and universities throughout the United States. Since its establishment 52 years ago, KCACTF has reached millions of theatregoers and made important contributions to the professional development of countless college and university theatre students nationwide.

 


With Stage Work Plus Regional and National Singing Competitions as Her Foundation, Claire Cook ’21 Preps for a Theatre Career

During her sophomore year, Claire Cook ’21 and other talented vocalists from throughout Virginia took part in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) statewide competition at Shenandoah University. Contending in the musical theatre category, and working closely with Professor of Music Judith Cline to prepare, she qualified for the NATS Mid-Atlantic Regional competition, encompassing Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Ultimately, she would reach the national semifinals in Minnesota that year, ranking among the top 14 performers in her grouping.

This spring, once again with Cline’s guidance, the theatre major returned to NATS competition at the Virginia Chapter level. But, she wasn’t able to perform live before three judges in a practice room at a host school, as she did as a sophomore. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s contest presented a whole new set of challenges. The competition was held virtually and participants could not sing live and in person before the judges: Auditions had to be taped and submitted in advance.

“There is the potential for so many variables that could go wrong, so I would say it was a lot more difficult,” Cook explained. “I was home on break as the submission deadline for the statewide competition approached. So, I had to record the numbers at home by myself at night in my dining room, right below my dad’s bedroom. I didn’t have the best equipment, either. I had to stand just four feet away from the camera, and because I was so close, my breaths were really loud.” Since she was now a senior, Cook was moved up to a higher musical theatre category; instead of singing three numbers as she did as a sophomore, she had to audition with four new contrasting pieces.

Nevertheless, Cook impressed the judges so much that she was selected as a Virginia honors recipient, and once again went on to compete at the NATS Mid-Atlantic Regional Competition. Regionals were also held remotely, but fortunately Cook could prepare for the event after she returned to campus for spring term. For this competition, she used the more spacious and acoustically dynamic Talmadge Recital Hall to rerecord her musical selections.

When Cook enrolled at Hollins, she was already a seasoned theatre veteran, having performed as a lead or supporting actor in a number of shows in her hometown of Winchester, Virginia. She launched her undergraduate career in a production of Chicago as a part of the vocal ensemble, and then earned her first understudy experience in the Spring 2019 staging of the musical Fun Home. “When you’re an understudy you have to learn everything that the principal actor does because you have to be prepared to go on at any given moment. There’s no guarantee you’ll go on, but you have to be there for most of the rehearsals, you get fitted for a costume, you do everything.”

As “Mrs. Alexander” in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Cook was not intimidated by the fact that the pandemic had necessitated the play be staged via Zoom. “A lot of it is just remembering to turn your audio on and off,” she laughed, but quickly added, “the main thing we missed with the Zoom production was the connections you make with the audience.”

The absence of interaction was addressed in her next virtual production, the drama Decision Height, where she played “Mrs. Deaton,” the den mother. “We allowed the audience to come on camera at the end of the show. That was an upside because I got to see every individual person instead of looking out over a sea of people as you normally would with a live staging.”

Cook’s stage work represents just some of the opportunities she’s taken advantage of as a theatre major. A job fair sponsored by the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) connected her with a variety of employers. “I met a lot of great people and I actually got a job through SETC this year for the summer.” Through the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), she auditioned for the KCACTF Region IV Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, which supports student actors across the nation. She got to see live shows such as Mamma Mia and West Side Story at Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Theatre (a Hollins Theatre partner) and attended productions at the renowned American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia. And, she interned with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C.

Cook also praises her professors for encouraging her acting pursuits and igniting her interest in other aspects of theatre production such as scenic design. “You really get to know the professors in the theatre department,” she said. “Theatre just has really nice people to come in and through. The theatre’s student community is also tight-knit. I met my best friend there.”

Hollins’ study abroad program was one of the biggest draws for Cook as a prospective student, and she blended her passion for international experience with her field of study by participating in the London Theatre Semester during fall term of her junior year. Taking the London Stage class immersed her in all of what London has to offer theatrically. “I saw so many shows. I went to Shakespeare’s Globe and to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company. I lived with a host family in East Finchley (an area in North London). That was really nice, and it was such a sweet little neighborhood, so pretty.”

Through her SETC networking, Cook will work this summer as a photographer/counselor at Stagedoor Manor, a prestigious performing arts camp in New York State whose alumni include Mandy Moore, Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Robert Downey Jr., and Bryce Howard. Then, “I’m going to be applying for apprenticeships for administrative theatre jobs and auditioning for whatever I can. I want to go to graduate school in theatre, but there’s a lot competition there, especially from industry professionals and those who have done national tours. I definitely need to have that experience.”

 


Art History Senior Symposium and Tribute to Professor Kathleen Nolan, April 24

Hollins will observe the 25th anniversary of the Art History Senior Symposium and pay tribute to retiring Professor of Art History Kathleen Nolan during two virtual events on Saturday, April 24.

The annual Art History Senior Symposium, the capstone experience for art history majors, will take place from 10 a.m. – noon EDT. Four members of the class of 2021 will present their original research through a series of 20-minute talks. Email knolan@hollins.edu for the Zoom link and more details.

From 1 – 3 p.m. EDT, art history alumnae will come together for a reunion to honor Nolan and her distinguished 35-year academic career at Hollins. Nolan shaped the art history department into a multi-faceted program and taught majors, minors, and non-majors the skills to perceptively and thoughtfully interpret images from the past and present alike. She has taught medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art history, and her scholarly interests include the history of women in the Middle Ages, and the works of art commissioned by women to tell their stories. She co-edited Arts of the Medieval Cathedrals: Studies on Architecture, Stained Glass and Sculpture in Honor of Anne Prache. Her book, Queens in Stone and Silver: The Creation of a Visual Identity of Queenship in Capetian France (Palgrave 2009), looked at queens’ personal seals and effigy tombs. Her articles and essays have appeared in The Art Bulletin, the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Studies in Iconography, and Gesta.

Christine Holt Fix ’97, Zirwat Chowdhury ’05, Gwen Fernandez ’06, Sarita Herman ’08, and Rory Keeley ’17 will deliver brief reflections on how their experiences studying with Nolan shaped their career paths. Through short videos, many other alumnae will also offer greetings and share their recollections. The celebration will also include opportunities to catch up with classmates, provide updates, and make new connections. Preregister for the Zoom link, or contact Amy Torbert ’05 at amy.torbert@gmail.com to learn more about the reunion event or to contribute your own memories.