Rio Grande – The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College School of Arts and Letters is teaming up with Portsmouth High School and Artist Katie M. Westmoreland of Brooklyn, New York, to create a new piece of art to display in the high school. Westmoreland is one of Rio’s many visiting artists who come to work with students through the ImagineArts Endowment. Professor of Art Kevin Lyles said he is excited to have Westmoreland’s collaboration as Rio works to provide unique artistic opportunities to high school students in the community.
“The mission of the ImagianeArts Endowment is to enrich the lives of the youth of our region through the arts. We are very excited to bring Katie in from New York to work with students at Portsmouth High School as well as with our students here on campus,” Lyles said. “We have always seen Rio Grande as an oasis of the arts and culture within our community. Art enhances people’s lives, so we feel it’s important to expose our youth to these unique opportunities to work with guest artists.”
Westmoreland’s art revolves around the use of light, shape and shadow. Much of her work reflects the movement of sunlight through plant life such as trees and the way that movement changes the shadows of the leaves over time. At Portsmouth, she and the students will be using these techniques to create a frosted glass mural window. She said she is eager to take part in the project, which is inspired by the school district’s “Human Rights Garden.” As part of her visit, some of Westmoreland’s work will also be on display in the Esther Allen Greer Museum in an exhibit titled, “Light is Shape, Shadow is Form,” which will include a site-specific installation piece on fabric designed to create the effect of a waterfall.
“The partnership between Rio Grande and Portsmouth High School through the “Human Rights Garden” is very inspiring. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to contribute my own art style and ideas to this environment. I think this will be a great way to appreciate the unique experiences we have viewing the world around us,” Westmoreland said. “I’m also eager to work with the students at Rio because sharing my art and ideas is one way I continue learning throughout my career. I also want to inspire others to see the world in new ways, because it can be such a fulfilling experience. Guest artists who visited my classrooms had a major impact on me as a student, and I hope to share that same experience with the students at Rio.”
The School of Arts and Letters started the Visiting Artists Program through the ImagineArts Endowment, founded in large part by the late Brooks Jones, and use the endowment to honor his wish of bringing the arts to area youth. The fine and performing arts department have used the grant to bring artists to both Rio’s campus and local schools, and even to sponsor field trips for area elementary schools to see plays and musical performances.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to display some of Katie’s work on campus during her visit so people can see her style of art first-hand while she’s working with the students.” Lyles said. “As a university, it’s part of our mission to enlighten students and the people of our community. The exhibits in the Greer Museum and bringing a variety of contemporary art into the area is one of the many ways we reach that goal.”
Westmoreland’s exhibit “Light is Shape, Shadow is Form,” will be on display at the Greer Museum Monday, September 10 through Friday, September 21 with an artists’ reception Thursday September 20 at 5 p.m. The Greer Museum’s hours are 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. For more information on the Visiting Artists Program, contact the School of Arts and Letters at (740) 245-7364.