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Talented RCC students prepare for county Fine Arts Festival

Apr 6, 2019

WENTWORTH – Shelby Nelson glanced down at her dog Sissy, who looked back expectantly with her ears straight up, her fur a gentle swirl of colors that matched Nelson’s red sweatshirt. Behind Nelson against the wall, Caleb Howerton picked up two of his friends off the floor. “This is my friend from high school who goes to ECU, so I haven’t seen him in about a year,” he said, his hand on the shoulder of a handsome bearded fellow.

Nelson and Howerton are part of the Art Club, which met in Rockingham Community College’s Center for Creative Arts, tucked along the western side of campus. Club members met the afternoon of March 27, to prepare their works of art for the Rockingham County Fine Arts Festival, which was accepting entries the following day.

Under the guidance of instructors Ray Martin and Philip Haralam, students lined the tables in the art studio, filling out festival forms and readying their pieces for display.

For Nelson, that meant framing “Sissy,” an oil pastel on cardboard.

Howerton’s pieces were already framed and ready, so he sat sketching from a group of chairs in the back of the studio. The oil paintings of his two friends were joined by a pen-and-ink interpretation of a wood engraving of Albrecht Dürer, a German painter and engraver known for intricate details.

“We had to do a master copy last semester. I was really impressed with (Dürer’s) work, and I wanted to try something really hard. It came out okay,” Howerton said.

From across the room, Haralam announced, “You need to fill out the paperwork now, because it will be hectic when we get there,” referring to the art intake at the gallery, set up in the Eden Room at Eden City Hall.

Erica Locklear immediately put pen to paper, filling in information on the art show form, in the shadow of “Blossoming Hand,” her ceramic piece.

“I started with a box, then did slabs and attached all of it,” she said of her sculpture. “I hand-built the hand, then individually did each flower.”

Locklear began sculpting hands last semester, and sold one in RCC’s Student Art Show.

“It started as a project in Mr. Haralam’s class, and I got interested in the hands and I wanted to get better,” said Locklear, who, like many in the club, is working toward her Associate in Fine Arts degree. “If I decide to teach, I’ll go get my Masters. But in four years, hopefully I will have my own little ceramics studio.”

At another table, Samantha Swinson swung open a large drawing pad to reveal her talent.

“For a project in my painting class, we were told to pick a mythological story or creature and do a piece with it and have it pertain to us in some way,” she said.

Swinson picked a Kelpie – “A mythical Scottish creature that looks like pretty horse. People want to ride it, but when they get on top of the pretty horse, its skin turns to tar and they get stuck to it. Then it jumps in the water and drowns (the rider),” she said. “It symbolizes emotional drowning.”

Martin grabbed everyone’s attention at the front of the room, for a short discussion about the Fine Arts Festival, including its cash prizes.

“I think many of you have done things that ought to be seen by the greater public and I know you all agree with this, that moving someone else, that knows you or doesn’t know you, or another artist, is incalculable more than winning 50 bucks for second prize,” he said.

“They get a cavalcade of judges from outside of the county. You just can’t tell, you might have some sophisticated judges in some categories, and some amateur judges in others,” he continued. “Our mentality is that that we’re making this thing to share with the world and add to the active participation and beauty.”

The Fine Arts Festival is traditionally held at RCC’s Whitcomb Student Center, but due to renovations, the Fine Arts Festival Association of Rockingham County had to relocate it a couple of years ago.

The event begins with an awards ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7 in the council chambers at Eden City Hall, located at 308 E. Stadium Drive in Eden. The exhibit is open to the public for viewing and purchasing from 3-5 p.m. that day; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, April 8-12; and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, April 13.

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Gerri Hunt is director of public information at Rockingham Community College. She can be reached at huntg0780@rockinghamcc.edu or 336-342-4261 ext. 2170.

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