NC A&T State University Visual Arts Program

by Terry Watson | May 22nd, 2018
Senior Projects Exhibition in the Dudley Memorial Building

Senior Projects Exhibition in the Dudley Memorial Building (Photos by Mykel Media Company)

On April 26th, 2018 the students of the Visual Arts Program of North Carolina A&T State University participated in a Senior Projects Exhibition in the Dudley Memorial Building located on A&T’s campus. They showcased their works of art and gave viewers the chance to talk directly to the artists. Amongst the students that participated were Mireyah Muniz, a self-described fireball of energy who loves being creatively alive. Any art that she makes is intended to send a message. Whether it be a simple idea or a racial stance, Mireyah hopes the viewer will walk away with something new. Her life, and art career has been impacted by life experiences. “Everything hasn’t always been cookie cutter perfect and I’ve hit some speed bumps in life, but it hasn’t stopped me from being the best I can be,” she says. “I put personal things in my art the reflect me and my culture and where I come from. I reflect on what I see in the world around me and what it has to say about me. Being a student at NC A&T has helped to elevate me as a person and artist. The professors really care and take me seriously as an artist.

Clarence Clemons is a senior student at North Carolina A&T State University. He is originally from Jacksonville, FL and moved to Charlotte, N.C. in 2010. Creativity has always been a passion for him and Clarence states it’s wonderful to find a career focusing on just that. His style of art exists in the subject matter more than the visual aesthetic. He is big on morals and themes mainly because, if implemented right, he says these can be subjects that can encourage and inspire viewers on a stronger level. “My piece called ‘Faithful’ is about standing strong, even when the odds don’t seem to work in your favor. This isn’t it out of ignorance, but out of courage and confidence. Usually, my work will be slightly abstracted to exaggerate certain things such as using caricatured proportions or dashing strikes to depict motion. This is usually done to help viewers mentally depart from the constraints of real life and open their minds to a new way of seeing the world we live in,” Clarence says.

Somewhat different than most other artist, Clarence’s inspiration for both art and design came from the video game industry, more specifically Sonic the Hedgehog 2. “It came out in 1992, the year I was born, but I didn’t get to play it until I was four years old. The art direction and setting in that game was the first time I ever saw anything as artful, creative, and almost entirely out of the box. It showed me that life can be more than how we see it with our own eyes. That’s the feeling I hope others will have when they see my work,” he says.

Claire Rogers is a graduating senior from Charlotte, N.C. She is soft-spoken and a lover of art and culture. She is drawn to all things expressive, artistic, and innovative, and anything else that falls in between. She is also a collector of random information and is most comfortable when sketching or reading a good book. Claire describes her style of art as Afrocentric. “I draw influence from ancestral and alchemic symbols as well as concepts from multiple cultural spiritual backgrounds. I have a free-flowing approach to the style of mark making that I use within my work. I always tend to use similar color palettes throughout my work which is one of the underlying strings that connect my work aesthetically.

From an early age, Claire’s parents have allowed her siblings and herself to be expressive and explorative within the arts. Her family and friends have also been her biggest supporters. She declares that NC A&T’s art instruction has helped her to become the artist she has always seen herself as. “My gift is constantly improving and evolving, and I am learning to use everything around me, and everything within me to create,” she says.

Mary Brown is a 28-year-old Greensboro native who enjoys gardening, creating art, the mountains, and hanging out with her animals. She is a double major in Environmental Science and Visual Art. Over the years, Mary has learned how to love Greensboro and its sense of community and hopes to continue growing with it. As an artist, she often starts a piece not knowing visually where she is going with it. “Generally, I start with one idea or subject. That is usually a person or a mood I want to portray. As I focus on developing the initial subject the rest falls into place. Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting the portrait to convey boldness and happiness through color and pattern, and other times the concept of sorrow is carried out through pattern and imagery before creating a face that conveys the mood. Ultimately, while each piece has a unique personal mood or idea behind it, I want the viewer to experience their own version of joy, confidence, or sorrow and allow the art to draw them to their own memories of those feelings,” she says.

As a younger adult, Mary experienced many rough times, some self-inflicted. Coming to the NC A&T Visual Art’s department and having Dr. Hooker as her first professor allowed her to utilize my past struggles as a asset and gave her the freedom and encouragement she had not found elsewhere previously. “NC A&T art instructors gave me the freedom to create as I saw fit and provided constructive critiques of how to grow and develop my personal style,” says Mary. “Often my biggest inspirations are not the people themselves I convey, but a universal feeling they are expressing, that is unique to them, yet others have also felt on their own. I am also inspired by stories, feelings, memories, empathy, and the diversity and similarities that lie with them.”

As the Program Director within the Visual Arts department, Roymieco Carter’s duties can be simple to state, but also difficult to execute at times. Every day, the goal is to focus on the relevant improvements needed for excellence, whether it be today, the near future, or for possibilities of the distant future. It would not be a challenge if that was the only aspect. “It gets challenging because when I have to juggle the needs and expectations of our student population, our greatest asset along with meeting the needs and expectations of the faculty. I must align the universities goals with those within our Visual Arts program. The expectations are great but whenever you get and email form a student thanking the program for helping become a creative professional, it’s all worth it,” he says.

The students that enter the Visual Arts program come from various backgrounds. Some come from a family of artist who have encouraged their artistic aspirations. Some are under their own drive and determination. “We embrace every student and offer guidance to help them be successful. It is amazing how many of our students end up in leadership positions because of the organization, discipline, and focus skills they acquired as a student,” says Roymieco.

As an artist, Roymieco reflects on the historical accounts of creativity playing key roles in the shaping of our society. “Of course, I am focused on the creative contributions of the arts in the world and I understand how the arts have embraced science, nature and the spiritual and allowed us to explore the opportunities of the ‘new’. We don’t know what the ‘new’ looks like but sometimes we can see our influence on the thinking of others,” he says.

Amy Schwartzott serves as Assistant Professor of Art History and Curator of University Galleries. She is curious and deeply invested in the arts, its history, media. The overall framework continues to fascinate her on a daily basis, enriching all aspects of her life. Amy teaches Art History classes at NC A&T and works with logistics connected to the University Galleries, including the historic African collection of the Mattye Reed Collection and the African American collection of the H. Clinton Taylor Gallery. She is involved with the organization, presentation, and curation of ongoing art exhibitions at NC A&T and gives community and university tours.

Amy was drawn to her current position because of its hybridity, teaching and curating. Her goal is to connect the outstanding art collection at NC A&T with the classroom, creating a platform to explore object context by linking the didactic opportunity of “real art” to the learning that incorporates these themes and helps to create more potent connections between students and art.

Amy is an art historian, so not a plastic artist in the true sense. However, she has an innate passion and calling for the history of art, akin to what artists relate to their chosen profession. “I am inspired by artists who create art from recycled materials. The notion of transformation of objects and the innate biography of their materiality is especially exciting to me. This has led me to investigate the role recyclia has made in the media of Mozambican contemporary artists. “I understand the students exhibit many diverse talents, abilities, and skills. The diversity of our student population provides a rich offering to the Visual Arts Department, as we focus on nurturing and supporting many divergent interests in media, subject matter, and technical style. The greatest feature of our students is their ability and interest in learning from each other,” says Amy.

Dr. Willie Hooker is a Professor of Art with the Visual Arts program at NC A&T. His goal is to immense professional development opportunities for the visual arts faculty and students concerning art curricular materials, interdisciplinary art research, and global art exhibitions.

His twenty years as a tenure full-professor at NC A&T has motivated Dr. Hooker with passion for studio art and African American art history that extends beyond his own art studio. “I believe one of the best ways to produce art is to see art on a global scale. The university has given some of the art students the opportunity to travel with me internationally, visiting some of the world’s greatest art museums and art galleries,” he says. “Pushing art students past boundaries and honing and developing their artistic skills for graduate school, and obtaining a Master of Fine Arts Degree after graduating from NC A&T.”

Dr. Hooker considers himself a serious studio artist and scholar in African-American art history. “I want people, especially blacks to feel a sense of pride when they look at my African-American art work and interpret it. It should produce a respect for Africa. As a scholar in the visual arts my mission is to cultivate the international global community about the historical aspects of African – American Art History,”
he says.

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