By Inesha Howard | Staff Writer
Small rooms on the Summerville campus of Augusta University have a major impact on students and the community.
The Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art, located on the first floor of Washington Hall, is dedicated to Mary S. Byrd as of Sept. 30, 2010 in appreciation of her support for students studying art and music at Augusta University, according to the monument outside of the gallery.
According to Brian Rust, assistant chair of the Department of Art, the Mary S. Byrd Gallery serves as the main visual arts venue for the Department of Art at Augusta University. The department also sees this gallery as a space to serve the Augusta community and the CSRA.
“Besides exhibitions of local, regional and national artists, the gallery hosts several artist talks and panel discussions per academic year related to the exhibitions on display,” Rust said.
Currently, the annual Augusta University Student Art Exhibition is up, which happens each early spring. The gallery always asks an outside juror to select works for a show submitted from art students, according to Rust.
One student whose work is up in the gallery right now is Elizabeth Kenyon, a junior art major with a concentration in printmaking and photography. Kenyon said that there are a number of things that inspire her work from music and films to everyday experiences.
According to Kenyon, training in classical ballet is another thing that inspires her. So inspired, in fact, that she created an artwork called “A Collection of Torture Devices.”
“My inspiration for ‘A Collection of Torture Devices’ stems from a couple different places,” Kenyon said. “I find the layering of scales like that of a fish to be aesthetically satisfying. I also enjoy the experience that takes place when you see a collection of items that are similar as a whole and yet individually unique.”
Kenyon said that the ballet shoes used for the piece were not hers but they were generously donated from several of her ballet friends. She also said that it took her about a week to tie each shoe and ribbon together.
“Struttura & Strati,” another piece of Kenyon’s work, was a Morris Museum of Art award-winning piece.
“All of the art kids in the art department work tirelessly and are deserving of an award,” Kenyon said. “To hear your own name called to receive an award is just so humbling. My fellow art students play such a large role in any kind of success I experience. I feel as though I am sharing the award with every single one of them.”
Rust said what makes these exhibitions important is that they serve as a learning resource for art, humanities and other students to see current artists and their work. He said that it is especially important for art students to see current artists’ work and speak with these artists about their own artistic process.
The art department also sees the gallery as a way to invite people from the Augusta arts community onto the campus, according to Rust.
“Visitors will get to experience not only what is going on in the gallery but also since it is located within the art department’s building, they see what our current students have up on the walls as well,” Rust said.
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