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.

 


Hollins Theatre Brings Back the “Razzle Dazzle” with “Chicago” Revival

After nine years, Hollins Theatre is returning to the scene of the crime with a revival of one of Broadway’s most celebrated musicals.

Hollins University’s theatre department is presenting a new production of the Tony Award-winning hit Chicago, April 12 – 15 and April 18 – 21. Tickets are $10 general admission, with one free ticket available to current Hollins students, faculty, and staff.

Director Ernie Zulia, Hollins Theatre’s artistic director and chair, believes Chicago’s tale of murder, greed, corruption, treachery, and show biz during the Roaring Twenties is more relevant to audiences than ever before. “Aside from being fantastic entertainment, the show has an even stronger resonance now because it shines such a powerful spotlight on manipulation of the media, fake news, spin, alternative facts, and a public that is hungry for the truth,” he explains. “Not that we are seeing any of that in the world today!”

Chicago also boasts strong connections to southwest Virginia. Two current Hollins students who are also residents of Roanoke play featured roles: senior Emma Sala portrays Velma Kelly, and Anna Holland, a junior, is cast as Roxie Hart. In addition, guest artist Kendall Payne, who plays Billy Flynn, is a professional actor originally from Pulaski. He is the nephew of local jazz legend William Penn.

Zulia says the show is a tribute to John Sailer, who was Hollins Theatre’s resident scenery and lighting designer for ten years and passed away suddenly in 2015.

“We have recreated his original design for Chicago, which was one of his best ever,” Zulia notes.

Featuring such hit songs as “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle,” Chicago is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. The show is not recommended for children.

For tickets and show times, visit hollins.edu/theatre or call (540) 362-6517.


Student Artists Showcased in New Voice Exhibit

Hollins University studio art majors Meera Chauhan ’19 and Ashley-Kate Meador ’18 are among ten emerging regional artists featured in the Sixth Annual New Voice Exhibit at the Floyd Center for the Arts in Floyd, Virginia.

The exhibition continues through March 31 and admission is free and open to the public.

Each year, the New Voice Exhibit highlights artists who are suggested by area college and university art instructors. Either current or former students, the artists may be just beginning their artistic journeys or changing their artistic paths is some major way. In addition to Hollins, this year’s artists come from Radford University and Virginia Tech as well as nominations by Floyd Center for the Arts Board and Gallery Committee members.

“What a fascinating show this is,” said Becky Lattuca, the center’s director of special programming. “Although we review the recommendations before inviting the artists to participate, we do not select the artwork. Instead, we ask each of them to surprise us with their choices. This approach allows the artists to highlight what they see as their most significant recent innovations, creating a uniquely diverse and thought-provoking representation of what these emerging artists have to say.”

Chauhan works in oil paint while Meador creates with textile.

The Floyd Center for the Arts is located at 220 Parkway Lane South in Floyd and is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


M.F.A. Dance Alumna Is Named a 2018 USA Fellow

Dancer and choreographer Amara Tabor-Smith M.F.A. ’16 is one of 45 artists and collectives across nine creative disciplines announced as 2018 USA Fellows by United States Artists.

Recognized for their creative accomplishments, each fellow will receive an unrestricted $50,000 cash award, which they may use to support their ongoing artistic and professional development.

Tabor-Smith lives in Oakland, California, and serves as the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater. She describes her work as “Afro Futurist Conjure Art,” and her dance-making practice utilizes Yoruba spiritual ritual to address issues of social and environmental justice, race, gender identity, and belonging. Her current project, House/Full of Blackwomen, is a multi site-specific dance theater work that addresses the displacement, well-being, and sex-trafficking of black women and girls in Oakland.

Tabor-Smith’s work has been performed in Brazil, the Republic of Congo, New York, and the San Francisco Bay Area, where her company is based. She is an artist-in-residence at Stanford University and is a member of the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.

USA Fellowships are awarded to artists at all stages of their careers, and from every corner of the United States, through a rigorous nomination and panel selection process. Spread across all creative disciplines including Architecture & Design, Craft, Dance, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing, the fellows represent a broad cross-section of the best of American arts and letters.

“I could not be more thrilled with the 2018 USA Fellows, or with the tremendous artistic output, and potential, they represent,” said United States Artists President and CEO Deana Haggag. “They produce some of the most moving, incisive, and powerful artistic work in the country, and it is our privilege to honor them. Collectively, they are a reminder of the beauty produced by hardworking artists on a daily basis, too much of which is often overlooked.”

Founded in 2006 by the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential Foundations, United States Artists is among the largest providers of unrestricted support to artists working and living in the U.S. To date, the organization has provided more than $22 million in the form of unrestricted $50,000 awards directly to more than 500 artists working in all disciplines and at every career stage.

 


Artist-in-Residence is Powerful Visual Activist, LGBT Advocate

The 2017 winner of France’s top cultural honor will be teaching students, exhibiting her work, and leading a special symposium on the Hollins campus this spring.

South African photographer and activist Zanele Muholi will be Hollins’ 2018 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence during the university’s Spring Term, which begins January 31. The Artist-in-Residence program enables Hollins to bring a recognized artist to campus every year.  While in residence, they 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 campus and greater Roanoke community.

Muholi has earned international acclaim for her efforts to document South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. In 2017, her work has been shown in galleries and museums in New York, Cape Town, London, Amsterdam, and Berlin. She is perhaps best known for her ongoing series and self-described “lifetime project” Faces and Phases, which includes black-and-white photographs of lesbian and trans South Africans. The series began in 2006 and was the basis for a 2014 book that featured 258 images from the project’s first eight years.

A new book of 100 self-portraits, Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, is scheduled for publication in April 2018. In November 2017, she was actively involved in New York City’s Performa 17, “a leader in commissioning artists whose work has collectively shaped a new chapter in the multi-century legacy of visual artists working in live performance.”

Muholi has earned numerous awards, most recently and most notably France’s Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) for 2017, which recognizes those who have “distinguished themselves in the domain of artistic or literary creation or for the contribution they have made to art and literature in France and the world.” Upon receiving the honor, Muholi stated, “We work hard to create content that scholars and the rest of the world are able to use to highlight the many challenges faced by the LGBT communities….[It] is important to make sure that we unite the LGBT community so that people know that we too exist as professionals and as creators of great content.” Other honors include the 2016 Infinity Award from New York’s International Center of Photography, which recognizes major contributions and emerging talent in the fields of photojournalism, art, fashion photography, and publishing.

Highlighting Muholi’s residency at Hollins will be an exhibition of her work in the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, February 8 – April 22. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will open with a presentation by Muholi on Thursday, February 8, at 6 p.m.

Muholi will also headline a symposium, “Becoming Visible – A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Lives,” on Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14, in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center. In addition to programs with Muholi, Boy Erased author Garrard Conley, and local  LGBTQ+ activist Gregory Rosenthal, the symposium will include a screening of the documentary film Born This Way and an open microphone session where members of the audience can comment and share stories.

“Zanele focuses chiefly on the black South African LGBTQIA+ community,” said Sinazo Chiya of the Stevenson gallery in South Africa, “but the significance of her work reverberates outwards to celebrate queer and marginalised communities the world over, which is crucial in our turbulent and often divisive social climate.”

Muholi is represented by the Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York City.

 

 

 


Wilson Museum Presents “Susan King: Chronicles of a Southern Feminist”

The work of pioneering feminist artist Susan King is the subject of a new exhibition at Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.

“Susan King: Chronicles of a Southern Feminist” is on display in the museum’s Ballator-Thompson Gallery, January 4 – April 8.

Known both for her writing and her skillful bookmaking, King moved to Southern California in the 1970s to be part of the experimental Feminist Studio Workshop and taught one of the first Women and Art courses in the United States at the University of New Mexico in 1973. She went on to become the studio director of the Women’s Graphic Center at the Woman’s Building. King has since returned to her southern roots, and much of her work is influenced by southern oral tradition and history. In addition to writing about place, she continues to create books and ephemera in her home studio in Lexington, Kentucky, and lectures, teaches workshops, and completes artist residencies at art centers and universities throughout the country.

King’s work is in major collections including the Harvard University Library; The Getty Center Research Institute Library and the Otis College of Art and Design Library in Los Angeles; the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris; New York’s Museum of Modern Art Library; and the Victoria and Albert Museum Library in London.

Admission to the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is always free and open to the public.

 

 

 


Islamic Art Loan Immerses Students in Object-Based Learning

Professor of Art Kathleen Nolan’s Islamic Art class is engaging in hands-on research with rare artifacts from the Near East, thanks to a loan of decorative objects from a West Virginia museum to Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.

The Wilson Museum borrowed objects from the Huntington Museum of Art’s extensive collection of Near Eastern art, including rugs, pouring vessels, a traveling scribe set, a dish, a manuscript page firman, and bath sandals that date as far back as the 11th and 12th centuries and originated in Iran, Syria, and Turkey.

Islamic Art Class 1

“I am a big advocate of object-based learning and wanted Hollins students to have the opportunity to work with objects from the Near East. But, we didn’t have any in our permanent collection,” explains Jenine Culligan, curator and director of the Wilson Museum. Prior to coming to Hollins, Culligan was chief curator for 15 years at the Huntington Museum of Art and in 2010 was instrumental in working with Joseph and Omayma Touma on cataloging 400 Near Eastern objects they had donated to the museum. Culligan made arrangements to borrow eight of the objects through mid-December.

“When I found out that Professor Nolan was teaching an Islamic Art class,” she continues, “I broached the idea of allowing the students in the class to do research on these objects.”

NoIslamic Art Class 2lan praises Culligan for her efforts to make the objects available to her class. “The students and I are thrilled to have these. There was great excitement in the vault of the Wilson Museum when we got to experience these objects first-hand.”

Soon after coordinating the research initiative with Nolan, Culligan was approached by Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch about displaying the objects as part of the Appalachia Model Arab League Conference that Hollins is hosting November 10 -12. They will be on view during the conference in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center along with additional Near Eastern objects on loan from the Roanoke community.

“These collaborations between the Wilson Museum and the art history department and the museum and the political science department seemed meant to be,” Culligan says.

 

Photos: Led by Wilson Museum Curator and Director Jenine Culligan, students from Professor Kathleen Nolan’s Islamic Art class investigate some of the Near Eastern objects on loan to the museum.

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Wilson Museum Exhibition Is “Drawn from the Vault”

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is featuring a disparate selection of drawings from its permanent collection as part of the exhibition Drawn from the Vault, which is on display September 28 – December 10.

On paper and in a variety of media, many of these artworks date from the second half of the 20th century and have never been exhibited. “Several of these drawings have Hollins connections, created by students during their classes, former faculty such as John Ballator and Louis Thompson, or alumnae who became career artists, including Susan Cofer and Mary Page Evans,” says Wilson Museum Curator and Director Jenine Culligan. Other works in the exhibition, she adds, were collected and donated by alumnae and other generous donors, or come from artists who became part of region’s artistic legacy.

“This exhibition presents just a small sampling of the riches in the museum’s vault,” Culligan notes.

Drawn from the Vault will be on view in the Wilson Museum’s Ballator-Thompson Gallery. Culligan is conducting lunchtime tours of the exhibition on October 3, November 7, and December 5.

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