Hollins Welcomes Southeastern College Art Conference, Showcases Drawings by Alumnae Artists

Hollins University is joining Virginia Tech in hosting the 72nd annual meeting of the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC), October 19 – 22.

SECAC promotes the study and practice of the visual arts in higher education and includes individual and institutional members from across the United States. It is the second largest national organization of its kind.

Hollins’ Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center is currently exhibiting two floors of art work in conjunction with SECAC’s annual Juried Exhibition and reception on Thursday evening, October 20. The second floor features an exhibition of relief prints from across the United States, while the third floor is displaying drawings by recent Hollins alumnae, including Katelyn Osborne, Catherine Gural, Nancy Van Noppen, JD Donnelly, Kyri Lorenz, Mary Kate Claytor, Hillary Kursh, MaKayla Songer, Meredith Stafford, Lindsay Overstreet Cronise, and Mercededs Eliassen Fleagle.

Both shows will be available for viewing through Thursday, October 27.

“We are indebted to President Nancy Oliver Gray for her generous support,” said Conference Director Kevin Concannon, director of the School of Visual Arts and professor of art history at Virginia Tech. Concannon also cited Associate Professor of Art Jennifer Anderson and Jenine Culligan, director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, for their work in organizing this year’s event.


Hollins Theatre Hilariously Shows How Peter Pan Became an Ageless Hero

Hollins Theatre is presenting the inventive and uproarious prequel to the classic story of the boy who refused to grow up: The Tony Award-winning play Peter and the Starcatcher will be featured October 19 – 22 at 7:30 p.m., and October 22 – 23 at 2 p.m., on the Hollins University Theatre Main Stage.

Based on the bestselling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatcher is the story of a 13-year-old apprentice starcatcher named Molly, who navigates a world of pirates and sailors, orphans, and savages while Peter Pan learns to fly.

According to Ernie Zulia, director of the Hollins Theatre Institute, “The play by Rick Elise was created with adult audiences in mind, but clever children have also been spotted enjoying its delightful charms.”

Tickets are $10 general admission, with one free ticket available to current Hollins students, faculty, and staff. For more information, call the Hollins Theatre Box Office at (540) 362-6517 or visit www.hollins.edu/theatre.


Veteran TV and Stage Actress Dawn Wells to Headline Starcropolis: Theatre Under the Star

Dawn Wells, best known as “Mary Ann” on the classic ‘60s sitcom Gilligan’s Island, will be one of the featured performers at the first-ever Starcropolis, an evening of live theatre on Mill Mountain beneath the Roanoke Star, on Sunday evening, September 4.

The event is sponsored by Hollins University, the City of Roanoke, Mill Mountain Theatre, and Roanoke Public Libraries.

Wells joins more than 50 of the region’s best professional, amateur, and high school actors, including performers from Big Lick Conspiracy, Showtimers, Off the Rails Theatre, Attic Productions, Salem High School, Patrick Henry Players, and Mill Mountain Theatre Conservatory, who will bring to life a series of short plays created specifically for the event. Playwrights from the Playwrights Lab at Hollins University, some of the area’s best-known writers, and New York Times bestselling authors will draw inspiration from “Star Stories.” These narratives, funny moments, and deeply human events, planned or unplanned, that have occurred at the Star have been gathered by Roanoke Public Libraries in conjunction with Starcropolis.

“Dawn will be taking on quite a departure from her familiar persona as a wholesome girl-next-door,” said Ernie Zulia, artistic director and chair of the Hollins University theatre department. “She will be sharing her broad range as a stage actress to play the role of a homeless woman who climbed the mountain every summer to eavesdrop on opening night performances at Mill Mountain Playhouse.”

Zulia noted that Wells’ participation in Starcropolis is an outgrowth of the deep affection she has developed for Roanoke over the years. “Dawn’s manager, Leonard Carter, is a native Roanoker and a well-known filmmaker and photographer. He connected her with local writer and cartoonist Steve Stinson, who would go on to co-author Dawn’s 2014 book, What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life. Leonard also introduced Dawn to the unique charms of our region, which prompted her to share her enthusiasm for the Star City and lend her enormous talents to Starcropolis.”

Wells was already a seasoned television actress before she joined the cast of Gilligan’s Island in 1964, having appeared on such series as 77 Sunset Strip, Cheyenne, Maverick, and Bonanza. After Gilligan’s Island ended, she embarked on a theatre career, appearing in nearly 100 productions and starring in a one-woman show at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Today, she lives in Los Angeles and runs Wishing Wells Productions in Idaho, which makes clothing for people with limited mobility. She is also the founder of the Idaho Film and Television Institute.

In addition to Wells, Starcropolis will showcase New York actor Jasper McGruder, who is familiar to regional audiences in leading roles at the Barter Theatre and Triad Stage. He will portray Andrew Moore, who swept the old road that at one time provided the only access to the top of Mill Mountain. The story is written by acclaimed author and Hollins alumna Beth Macy and her husband, Tom Landon.

“When you add in the directors, designers, and technicians, over 100 people will be working to make this unique and exciting theatre event take place,” Zulia said. “Starcropolis isn’t just a one-night show, it’s a celebration of the rich world of live theatre in the Roanoke Valley.”

 


Celebrating a Beloved Roanoke Landmark, Starcropolis Brings Live Theatre Back to Mill Mountain

Hollins University, the City of Roanoke, Mill Mountain Theatre, and Roanoke Public Libraries are joining forces this Labor Day Weekend to present the first-ever Starcropolis, an evening of live theatre beneath the Roanoke Star.

The event kicks off during the late afternoon of Sunday, September 4, and continues past nightfall. Tickets are $15 and will be available for purchase online later this summer.

Starcropolis is inspired by the citizens of ancient Greece, who would gather for theatre festivals at the acropolis, the highest point in any city, “to be entertained, to be inspired, to feel connected,” says Ernie Zulia, artistic director and chair of the Hollins theatre department. “The glorious backdrop for the show was the spectacular view. It offered a breathtaking perspective on the place they called ‘home.’”

Mill Mountain is “our acropolis,” adds Zulia, and “our wacky and wonderful neon Parthenon” is the Roanoke Star.

Starcropolis’ main-stage event will feature a series of short plays created specifically for the festival. Scripts and stories will be written by playwrights from the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, along with some of the region’s best-known writers. Local actors and guest performers from around the country “will weave a rich theatrical tapestry especially for Roanoke,” Zulia says.

In conjunction with the event, Roanoke Public Libraries has launched “Star Stories,” nicknamed “Starry Corps.” Library staff and volunteers are gathering, recording, and archiving stories, funny moments, and deeply human events, planned or unplanned, that have occurred at the Star.

“These ‘Star Stories’ – our stories – will provide inspiration for the playwrights, storytellers, and writers for Starcropolis,” Zulia explains. “They will also be available through the library for the interest and delight of the public.”

People can share a Star Story by calling (540) 632-2203, emailing virginiaroom@gmail.com, or visiting http://roanokeva.gov/1246/Virginia-Room.

Starcropolis attendees, dubbed “Starcatchers,” will park at the city garage across from Elmwood Park and catch the Starline Trolley to ride to the top of Mill Mountain. While waiting, they will be treated to storytelling and music at a mini star stage. After boarding the trolley, Starcatchers will be entertained by actors during their ride up the mountain. When they arrive at the Adventure Center on Mill Mountain, Starcatchers will walk along the Star Trail to the Roanoke Star. The walk will be a performance unto itself, featuring Starbursts – mini performances staged by actors, singers, storytellers, and circus performers along the way.

The main-stage event will begin at sundown on a temporary stage under a huge tent that will seat every Starcatcher who arrives at the top.  During the two hours leading up to the main-stage event, community theatres and high schools from the Roanoke area will be invited to perform short Star Stories on two smaller satellite stages.

Other elements of the festival include:

  • Starry Starry Shakespeare, featuring a collection of characters, scenes, and sonnets from the world’s greatest playwright.
  • Star Slam, where young slam poets will shake up the festival with original poetry.
  • Starry-okee, featuring karaoke versions of songs with “star” in them.
  • Star History Stop, where a local historian will share interesting and colorful information and stories about the Star, including how it came to be and how it grew to its height of fame.

“In this fast-paced world where we are all trapped in front of one kind of electronic screen or other, the live theatre event is more valuable than ever,” Zulia says. “It brings us together in one place at the same time to share a laugh, shed a tear, and experience the power of great stories – our stories.

“Along with a huge dose of fun, it is our hope that Starcropolis will illuminate, galvanize, and inspire our community in a way that only live theatre can.”

Zulia, Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill, and event co-organizer Katherine Fralin Walker talk about the genesis of Starcropolis in this video.


Hollins Junior Pursues Unique Career Aspirations with Summer Internship at The Met

Rory Keeley ’17 envisions her life’s work as combining her study of mathematics with a passion for art. Chasing that dream has helped open the door to a summer position with one of the largest and most highly regarded art museums in the world.

Keeley, who hails from Charlotte, North Carolina, will spend ten weeks this summer as the market research intern for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“My primary responsibilities will include data analysis and modeling that will turn audience-based data into actionable results for the museum,” she explained. “I will also be using my skills in statistical analysis to inform the museum’s future vision.

“This internship blends the fields of mathematics and art history and will allow me to gain invaluable experience for future career opportunities.”

Keeley’s upcoming internship at The Met builds upon her already impressive exposure to the museum world. She served as the curatorial office and human resources intern at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and also worked as the advancement intern at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond.

“Working in development at the VMFA was made possible by a Hollins alumna and one of my professors. I was able to acquire skills using math in a way that applies to the art world, but I wanted more experience. After some amazing guidance and encouragement from my advisors at Hollins, I applied to The Met.”

Keeley soon faced a happy dilemma: She also applied for a development internship at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and wound up with offers from both The Met and The Guggenheim. Again, she called upon her advisors to help her consider her options and determine which museum would be a better fit. In the end, she and her advisors decided that The Met presented an internship department, program, and growth opportunities that coincided with her aspirations.

“I cannot thank Hollins enough for fostering my ambition to pursue such unique career goals and giving me the support to fulfill that ambition,” she said. “Without the opportunities and connections I have at Hollins, I would never have been able to make this internship at The Met a reality.”

In addition to double-majoring in mathematics and statistics and art history at Hollins, Keeley is an Honors Program student and is earning her Certificate in Leadership Studies.


Taubman’s Monster Art Rally Features Hollins Professor

Associate Professor of Art Jennifer Anderson is among the more than 30 local artists who will be making original works of art on-site during the Second Annual Monster Art Rally at Roanoke’s Taubman Museum of Art. The event takes place on Thursday, April 21, from 5 – 9 p.m.

The general public is invited to observe the artists’ creative processes and then participate in a “Luck-of-the-Draw” auction in which each piece goes to the bidder with the highest drawn card for the flat price of $50.

“Our aim is to persuade people in Southwest Virginia to think of themselves as art patrons,” said Stephanie Fallon ’08, M.F.A. ’12, adult education manager at the Taubman. “By holding an auction where the art goes not to the highest bidder but to the highest card drawn, we can keep an affordable price for each piece so that people who might ordinarily find an art auction too intimidating will feel encouraged to attend. Once bitten by the art-buying bug, we hope attendees will feel excited about connecting with and supporting local artists in our region.”

Anderson has been a member of the Hollins faculty since 2010 and was selected by the financial literacy website Nerd Scholar for its inaugural list of “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire.” Earlier this year, Hollins presented her with the Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award for her scholarly and creative accomplishments. Anderson’s art has been exhibited in venues across the United States as well as in Russia and South Korea, and was recently chosen for inclusion in the book Printmakers Today.

In addition to earning her M.F.A. from the University of Georgia, Anderson was an East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Honors College graduate. This month ETSU is welcoming her back to campus to serve as guest speaker at the university’s annual Academic Excellence Convocation.

 


Kennedy Center Honors Hollins Playwright, Director

The national committee of The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) has recognized the play Coupler by Meredith Dayna Levy ’12 with its “Distinguished Production of New or Devised Work” award.

Levy is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins. This is not the first time the KCACTF has acknowledged her achievements: In 2013, she won the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Award, considered a gold medal, and the regional David Shelton Award for her original script, Decision Height. The following year, she received the Mimi and Harold Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award, which encourages college students to write for the stage by providing the opportunity for them to collaborate with actors, directors, and others through all stages of production, including rehearsals and performances.

Described as “whimsical comedy,” Coupler takes place in the London Underground, where the occupants of the last car on the Northern Line have lost parents, partners, and possibly themselves. They criss-cross through the heart of the Underground, holding on to what was and hoping for what might be.

The award also honors Playwright’s Lab Director Todd Ristau, who directed the production.

Coupler was staged during the 2016 Hollins-Mill Mountain Theatre Winter Festival of New Works, held in January.

Established in 1969, the KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide. It serves as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theatre in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theatre departments and student artists showcase their work.


“Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical” Returns to the Hollins Theatre Stage

Hollins Theatre is opening its 2015-16 season with a revival of Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical. The show, which is intended for children of all ages, runs October 10 – 18.

Goodnight Moon is based on the beloved children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown, a member of Hollins’ class of 1932. The classic story of a bunny who won’t go to sleep was first published in 1945 and went on to sell millions of copies around the world.  The musical adaptation by Chad Henry first appeared on the Hollins Theatre stage in 2011 as the inaugural production of the Hollins Legacy Series, which was created to bring the work of Hollins writers to the stage.

“When this tale was received with such tremendous enthusiasm, we decided to turn it into a Hollins tradition, with multiple productions over years to come,” said Ernie Zulia, director of the Hollins Theatre Institute. “It is our hope that each new crop of youngsters in the Roanoke Valley will bring their favorite grownups to Hollins Theatre for an experience they will long remember.”

Zulia estimated that about 4,000 school children, families, “and people of all conceivable demographics” saw Goodnight Moon during its 2011 run. “Add that number to what we hope will be thousands in the years to come, and it makes us mighty proud to play our part in this phenomenal math equation that illustrates how one author can affect the lives of so many.”

Zulia noted that there are currently over 14 million copies of Goodnight Moon in print in multiple languages around the globe. “Consider the number of times a single owner of a copy has urged a parent or loving adult to read and re-read the bedtime story aloud, and then multiply that by 14 million. Add to that the number of times the book has been opened by a child who can recite it from memory while gazing at Clement Hurd’s iconic illustrations, not to mention the number of children who reach for their favorite book as a reading primer over and over and over, and you can easily imagine a number that reaches far into the billions. That’s how often this simple little story has come alive in the world.”

Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical will be presented on Hollins Theatre’s main stage on Saturday, October 10, at 11 a.m.; Thursday and Friday, October 15 and 16, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, October 17, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, October 18, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for children, $10 for adults. Current Hollins students, faculty, and staff will receive one free ticket. For online ticket sales and more information, visit www.hollins.edu/theatre. Or, call the Hollins Theatre box office at (540) 362-6517 for more information.

 


Wilson Museum Expands Hours

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is adding new open gallery hours to better serve the Hollins campus and the Roanoke community.

Beginning September 1, the museum will be open to the public from noon until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with extended evening hours every Thursday until 8 p.m.

“Establishing evening hours once a week means that we will be open beyond the average student class schedule, and thus more students will be able to take advantage of exhibitions and curriculum connections,” explained Wilson Museum Director Jenine Culligan. She noted that evening hours will incorporate additional educational programming and activities for students as well as the community.

“Sunday gallery hours will appeal to both students and public viewers and create more accessibility for off-campus patrons,” Culligan added.

The museum will remain closed on Mondays and university breaks.

The Wilson Museum features the work of renowned, emerging, and regional artists. It presents exhibitions in a wide variety of media and genres, including selected exhibitions from the permanent collection. Through this programming, the museum provides a forum for art through viewing, dialogue, and an understanding of the creative process. Located on the first floor of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the museum is a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facility with three interconnected galleries totaling approximately 4,000 square feet of exhibition space.

 


Hollins Featured in “The Best 380 Colleges”; Theatre Program Is Ranked Among the Nation’s 20 Best

The Princeton Review has named Hollins University one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education.

Hollins is included in the new 2016 edition of the education services company’s flagship college guide, The Best 380 Colleges. In addition, the publication ranks the university 19th in the country in the category, “Best College Theater.”

According to The Princeton Review, only about 15% of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and only four colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book. Published annually since 1992, it includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores for all schools in eight categories, plus ranking lists of top 20 schools in the book in 62 categories based on The Princeton Review’s surveys of students attending the colleges.

“Hollins’ outstanding academics are the chief reason we chose it for this book and we strongly recommend it to applicants,” says Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s Senior VP-Publisher and author of The Best 380 Colleges.  “We make our selections primarily based on data we collect through our annual surveys of administrators at several hundred four-year colleges. Additionally, we give considerable weight to observations from our school visits, opinions of our staff and our 23-member National College Counselor Advisory Board, and an unparalleled amount of feedback we get from our surveys of students attending these schools. We also keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity and character.”

In its profile of Hollins, The Princeton Review notes, “Students at Hollins ‘adore the school.’ The women of Hollins describe themselves as ‘empowered, enthusiastic,’ ‘worldly, aware,’ ‘strong, and confident.’” Underscoring Hollins Theatre’s high national ranking in The Best 380 Colleges, the profile quotes students as stating that the program “is excellent, and the shows are always worth going to.”

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges from 1 to 380 in any category.  Instead it uses students’ ratings of their schools to compile 62 ranking lists of top 20 colleges in the book in various categories. The lists in this edition are entirely based on The Princeton Review’s survey of 136,000 students (about 358 per campus on average) attending the colleges. The 80-question survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences. Topics range from their assessments of their professors as teachers to opinions about their school’s library, career services, and student body’s political leanings. The Princeton Review explains the basis for each ranking list at http://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/ranking-methodology.

The Best 380 Colleges is the 24th edition of The Princeton Review’s annual Best Colleges book.