Art Professor Jennifer Anderson Launches Taubman Museum’s New Mural Wall Program

andersonAssociate Professor of Art Jennifer Anderson is inaugurating a new mural wall program at Roanoke’s Taubman Museum of Art with the creation of her work, Resolute Understandings of Fragile Things.

The piece will be on display May 31 – September 6 on the patio mural wall across from Norah’s Café in the museum and along Norfolk Avenue.

For the mural project, Anderson will hand cut intricate stencils that will be printed on the retaining wall outside Norah’s. Using elements around the museum as inspiration, the mural will present the tenacious relationship between the natural and man-made environment as the mural itself functions as a “wall paper” with a pattern similar to those found in the formal dining rooms of Victorian homes.

Anderson is collaborating with students from Hollins and Ferrum College, who will contribute their own elements to the mural and assist with its installation.

Jennifer D. Anderson: Resolute Understandings of Fragile Things will be created as part of the programming for the Taubman Museum of Art’s annual Sidewalk Art Show. Anderson and the students from Hollins and Ferrum will add the final elements to the mural on May 31, the day of the show.

The Taubman Museum of Art is located at 110 Salem Avenue, SE, in downtown Roanoke.


Hollins Theatre Honored for Producing Women Playwrights

ICWPHollins Theatre is one of 67 theatre companies from nine countries cited by the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) for producing the work of women playwrights.

The ICWP has presented Hollins its 50/50 Applause Award, which spotlights theatres that produce 50% or more women playwrights in their season of shows. Theatres in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States are among the honorees for 2014.

The award continues Hollins Theatre’s impressive run of national and international recognition. Over the past 20 months, the program has received 14 awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, including honors in production, direction, performance, and playwriting for Decision Height. The drama was written by Meredith Dayna Levy, a 2012 graduate of the university who is now pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins. Two playwriting awards were also presented this spring to Laura King, a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting at Hollins, and five national Kennedy Center awards were given last year to Hollins’ production of Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia.

Founded in 1988, ICWP’s mission is to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work.


Film Written by M.F.A. Grad to be Broadcast Nationally

hopeSusie’s Hope, a movie written and produced by Dan A.R. Kelly M.F.A. ’14, will air on the UP television network August 3.

The film, directed by Jerry Rees (The Brave Little Toaster), stars Emmanuelle Vaugier (40 Days and 40 Nights), Burgess Jenkins (Remember the Titans), and Andrea Powell (Ender’s Game). It’s about the inspirational relationship between a pit bull attack survivor, Donna Lawrence, and Susie, an abused pit bull-mix puppy, who learn to heal and forgive together. The movie is based on the real-life story of Lawrence and a severely abused puppy left for dead that she found in a Greensboro, North Carolina, park.

With the help of the Guilford County Animal Shelter, Susie survived her near-death experience and was adopted by Lawrence. Susie’s ordeal eventually led to the passing of Susie’s Law, which allows stricter punishment for animal abusers in North Carolina.

Susie, who is this year’s Therapy Dog Finalist in the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards, portrays herself in the film.

On August 12, Green Apple Entertainment will release Susie’s Hope on DVD nationwide. The film has been given the Dove Family Seal of Approval.

Kelly received his M.F.A. in screenwriting and film studies at Hollins’ commencement exercises in May. He is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.

 


Art Professor Jennifer Anderson Is Among the “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire”

andersonNerdScholar, a financial literacy website for students that empowers them to make smart financial choices, has selected Assistant Professor of Art Jennifer Anderson for its inaugural list of “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire.”

According to the website, “These 40 inspirational professors were nominated based on their ability to captivate and engage students in the classroom, desire to interact with students outside of class, and collaborate on research projects. Nominations were collected through student and faculty recommendations, articles such as The Princeton Review’s Best Professors list, and other pieces highlighting universities with outstanding professors, supplemented by crowd-sourced review sites such as RateMyProfessors and CourseRank.”

Anderson, who will receive tenure and promotion to associate professor on July 1, is one of three professors from colleges and universities in Virginia to make the list (the College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech are also represented).

Anderson’s profile and the complete list of honorees can be found here.


Mary-Carmen Webb ’15 Experiences “the Most Freeing Feeling I’ve Ever Had” through Hollins Dance

webbDuring a sometimes challenging transition from dancer to choreographer, Mary-Carmen Webb ’15 understandably might have been skeptical if someone had predicted her work would someday be showcased at a renowned regional dance festival. Nevertheless, Webb would go on to create an original piece, I met you in a kitchen, which was selected for the Gala Performance at the American College Dance Festival (ACDF) 2014 Mid-Atlantic Conference. The event was held in March at the George Mason University School of Dance in Fairfax.

“When I started choreographing, I had a lot of conflict with myself,” the Hollins junior from Roanoke recalls. “‘Will people like this? Is this pleasing? Will it be received well?’ I wrestled with that for a long time until I figured out that in order for me to be able to choreograph, I really have to be inside myself and accept how I move is not necessarily how other people see me moving. What people think of me is not how I really am, what I can really do.”

Before she went to college, Webb already had a decade of experience as a ballet dancer. But during rehearsals for a performance with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre, she worked with four dancers from Hollins who, she says, opened her eyes to new possibilities.

“I had always taken ballet and I was trying to find a different movement style I would enjoy. When I met them, it was exactly what I wanted and it piqued my interest a lot.” One of the dancers urged her to apply to Hollins; it ultimately became her first choice among the colleges and universities she was exploring.

“Hollins Dance is unlike anything else I have experienced. I took classes at other colleges and found them to be very competitive. [At Hollins] it’s like a family, they’re very welcoming. They all want to see you make it. They really encourage you to be the best you can be and take responsibility for your own education. It’s nice not to have someone pushing you and telling you where you should go. They have confidence in you.”

Webb says got the idea for I met you in a kitchen from reading about “viewing the dancing body as an x-ray. I then made up a few gestures for a transparent body.” The piece subsequently evolved into three sections with three dancers where “the first half of it, I had different gestures where it seemed we had our own form of communication and were inside of a different world, but it was something you could tell we had always been used to. The second half was really about dislocating that body from its original language, its history, and where it had been before.

“The piece as a whole is very bittersweet and has a sense of mortality to it. It’s also about relationships because that always finds its way into my work somehow.”

Webb guided kitchen through several informal performances last fall to get feedback from faculty and students. Associate Professor of Dance Jeffery Bullock and Instructor of Dance HeJin Jang then chose it to be shown at the annual Fall Dance Works in December, and later recommended it for the 2014 ACDF regional conference, even though officially, the piece didn’t have an ending.

“The ACDF contract required that we rehearse three hours every week just so they could see we were continuing to work on it,” Webb says. “It was really helpful for me because I don’t have very long rehearsals. Having to do three hours was like, ‘My gosh, what are we going to do?’ I split it up over two, sometimes three days, and I would actually have 30 to 45 minutes to myself in the studio before I would ask the girls [Caitlyn Lewis ‘17 and Molly McCambridge ‘14] to come in and rehearse. That helped me push myself to find the endpoint for that dance.”

At the ACDF regional conference, Webb, Lewis, and McCambridge danced first before a panel of adjudicators, who would select the works that would be featured at the Gala Performance. “Each night they have a feedback session where they talk about what they saw, what they think needs work, what they liked. It was very exciting, but the newness of it was kind of nerve wracking,” Webb explains. “When we were backstage right before we were about to go on to perform, I was like, ‘You know what, girls? Even if we mess up, it’s okay. I’m just really happy we are here.’ I wasn’t even thinking about the Gala – ‘I’m probably not going to get chosen, but I’m going to use the opportunity I have to perform to empower my work.’”

That philosophy would serve Webb and her fellow dancers well. Technical problems impacted the audio of the two recorded songs that are essential to the piece, and the end of the dance had to be performed in silence. Undaunted, they continued their routine.

“I was so proud to have those girls dancing with me. I wouldn’t have wanted anybody else. They essentially said, ‘We’re not going to have any music, it’s not going to be the full effect, but we’re just going to work it.’ And they danced their little hearts out.

“I was scared to go to feedback because I thought they were going to tear apart the fact that all my music cues were messed up. But, they didn’t say anything about them. One of the adjudicators said, ‘I liked how you faded in the music and then it faded out again.’ That wasn’t supposed to happen!”

The adjudicators went on to say many other great things about kitchen and selected it for the Gala Performance the next evening.

“I told the girls, ‘I’m just so happy we get to perform this again and perform it in the way it should be performed,’” Webb says. “For me, it was probably the most freeing feeling I’ve ever had, being able to perform again in front of an audience and knowing there was something in my work the adjudicators wanted to see again.”

Webb is continuing to take her work into some wonderfully unexpected places.

“The piece I’m working on right now is actually for my biology class, ‘Plants and People.’ We were assigned a research paper relating plants to something that interests us, and I figured, ‘Oh, I might as well do it to dance.’ The professor agreed, so I’m going to create a dance, film it, and present it in class. It’s probably the most I’ve researched one of my ideas, so I’m reading a lot about the human body as a biological being.

“I’m inspired by different things. But, I think it’s because I’m so visual that I’m often inspired by things I see versus an idea in my head.”