VCU Libraries exhibition showcases incredible medical, scientific illustrations by VCUarts students, alumni

Hannah Huddle (B.F.A.’16/A), a 2016 graduate of the School of the Arts, created this study of a beetle specimen found in Virginia Beach.

A new art show at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University is featuring medical and scientific illustrations by students and alumni of the Department of Communication Arts in the School of the Arts.

“Intersections II” features the work of 16 students and alumni of the Department of Communication Art’s scientific and preparatory medical illustration track, which requires a rigorous set of science courses hosted by the Department of Biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences and VCU Life Sciences in addition to their art courses.

The exhibition, which opens today, is free and open to the public at Tompkins-McCaw Library, located on VCU’s MCV campus at 509 N. 12th St. Images from “Intersections II” also will be displayed on the James Branch Cabell Library Big Screen beginning Monday, Feb. 27.

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Beatrice Wynn’s election in 1966 as RPI’s Harvest Ball queen attracted national attention

Beatrice Wynn Bush stands in front of Shafer Street Playhouse, where she spent much of her time as a drama student.
Allen Jones, University Marketing

Beatrice Wynn Bush (B.F.A.’69/A) decided to attend Richmond Professional Institute in 1966 because she was drawn to the theater department. She liked its assortment of courses and knew the program would offer a strong foundation for her to pursue her already avid interest in acting. However, she received a major shock when she stepped foot on campus. The department had not yet been integrated. She would be its first black student.

“When I figured that out, I got a little worried,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out.”

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Combining cultures: Alumnus connects China and America through art

Wei Dong.

Wei Dong.

Wei Dong dreamed of showcasing his work in the United States.

“I was like many aspiring Chinese artists in my generation, and I dreamed that I would be recognized and exhibit in America,” he said.

In a time when fewer than 1 percent of students were accepted into college in China, Dong attended TsingHua University in Beijing, formerly the Central Academy of Arts and Design, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in arts and interior design.

“I was very lucky,” he said. “This was the opportunity to follow my passion.”

China had just opened its doors to the world in the mid-1980s when Dong was ready to attend graduate school, allowing him to apply to colleges in the U.S. Through the strength of his portfolio, he received acceptance letters from many universities, but chose Virginia Commonwealth University because of its location and the personal outreach he received from his future VCU School of the Arts professor Ringo Yung.

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VCU student awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Alex Morales.  Photo by Pat Kane, University Public Affairs

Alex Morales.
Photo by Pat Kane, University Public Affairs

Alex Morales, a sophomore fashion merchandising student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, will study in Italy this semester with support from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

“In Europe, fashion is everywhere,” Morales said. “It’s such a global industry. It brings people together, nations together.”

Morales will study at the European Institute for Design (Istituto Europeo di Design) in Florence, and plans to take advantage of every formal and informal opportunity to develop his fashion industry sense.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. Students work with the VCU Education Abroad office and the National Scholarship Office to develop competitive applications.

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The art of expression: VCU student gives back to the community through art, activism and service

Angelique Scott.  Photo by Allen Jones, University Marketing

Angelique Scott.
Photo by Allen Jones, University Marketing

For someone who five years ago had no interest in applying to Virginia Commonwealth University — and hadn’t even heard of its School of the Arts — student Angelique Scott has given much to the university and the surrounding community during her time here.

Scott’s high school art and ceramic teachers had attended the VCU School of the Arts and persuaded her to apply.

“Not only did I not think that I would be accepted, but I also did not expect to receive as many grants and scholarships for my education,” Scott said.

The one thing Scott did know was that she wanted to study ceramics. As far back as she can remember, the Brooklyn native has loved art. Every Christmas, she received some sort of gift that allowed her to explore the world of art — from paint and an easel to a sewing machine and a trumpet.

“Whether it was fashion, painting or music, my passion for the arts has always been there,” she said.

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Designing Cuba

VCUarts alumnus Cody Huff (B.F.A.'16/A) examines a mosaic mural in Old Havana. The mural features prominent figures in Cuban history and the arts.

VCUarts alumnus Cody Huff (B.F.A.’16/A) examines a mosaic mural in Old Havana. The mural features prominent figures in Cuban history and the arts.

Sara Reed first noticed the posters last spring, scattered on walls throughout the Pollak Building. They promoted an engineering class on design in constrained environments. Reed, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of interior design at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, was curious.

“It sounded really intriguing,” she said. “What I was reminded of was research I had done for my dissertation on Cuban design and this idea of designing within material scarcity.”

The course was to be taught by Russell Jamison, Ph.D., dean emeritus and professor in the School of Engineering. Reed contacted Jamison, thinking she might be able to contribute to his class as a visiting speaker. The two met for coffee.

“I thought that it would be a guest lecture,” Reed said.

It turned into something much bigger than that.

Common threads

Feature photo by Julia Rendleman. Photos by Thomas Kojcsich, Julia Rendleman and Pat Kane.

Feature photo by Julia Rendleman. Photos by Thomas Kojcsich, Julia Rendleman and Pat Kane.

Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao, Ph.D., is not afraid to go out of his comfort zone for the sake of students. So when VCU fashion students wanted to outfit him for various work events as part of a special department project, it didn’t take long for him to say yes, despite feeling nervous about being in the fashion spotlight.

“It obviously makes you a little self-conscious … because it’s not your regular role,” he said. “But I do think it’s good for me to have this engagement, this involvement with the students.”

The project stemmed from a conversation that Rao had about a year ago with Patricia Brown, who had just become chair of the Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising in the School of the Arts, about selecting clothes to fit different occasions.

“My wheels started turning after that conversation and I started thinking about how much that is a part of somebody’s job when they’re working within the [fashion] industry,” Brown said. “They’re trying to solve a problem, and they’re trying to offer goods that work together in a way … that is appropriate for various occasions.”

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Alumna’s new film examines the life and work of an influential poet and professor

Film still. Photo by George Janecek.

Film still. Photo by George Janecek.

When Michele Poulos (M.F.A.’08/A) came to Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005 to pursue a creative writing M.F.A. in fiction, she did not know much about the poet Larry Levis, a former VCU faculty member who had died unexpectedly in 1996 at age 49. She had read a handful of his poems but was unaware of his biography or wide-ranging influence at VCU and on contemporary poetry. Soon, however, she began to hear stories about him. She met his former colleagues and students and heard the admiration and love in their voices. She began to read more of his poetry, which she found powerful. She even dreamed about him.

One night, while Poulos slept, a voice urged her to make a film about Levis. Poulos, who had studied film at New York University as an undergraduate student, resisted at first. It was a voice in a dream, after all, and she knew the filmmaking process would be arduous and long. However, she could not shake the idea, which was bolstered by the formidable presence that Levis continues to maintain in the English department in the College of Humanities and Sciences years after his death.

Eventually, Poulos deferred to the voice’s wishes and fully embraced the project. The result is “A Late Style of Fire,” a feature-length documentary that debuted in October at the prestigious Mill Valley Film Festival in the San Francisco Bay area. The film will enjoy its Virginia premiere Nov. 5 at 3:45 p.m. at St. Anne’s-Belfield School as part of the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville.

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Alumna kicks off VCU Music’s sixth annual flamenco festival

Leah Kruszewski.  Photo by Juan Domene.

Leah Kruszewski.
Photo by Juan Domene.

Before Leah Kruszewski (B.S.’10/A) decided to study music, she graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in biology.

“Music had been an important hobby for me before, but it became clear after graduating that music needed to be first in my life,” she said.

Luckily, Virginia Commonwealth University had a program that matched her interests. She earned her degree in Classical Guitar Performance from the School of the Arts in 2010.

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TV is good for you and other lessons from Twitter creative director

Jayanta Jenkins speaks during the Brandcenter Friday Forum at the University Student Commons Theater.  Photos by Pat Kane/University Public Affairs

Jayanta Jenkins speaks during the Brandcenter Friday Forum at the University Student Commons Theater.
Photos by Pat Kane/University Public Affairs

When Jayanta Jenkins (B.F.A.’94/A) joined Twitter six weeks ago as its global group creative director — the company’s highest creative role — one thing became immediately clear.

“We need to take the hashtag back,” said Jenkins, a VCU School of the Arts alumnus who delivered the VCU Brandcenter’s Friday Forum lecture last week. “Twitter has some things that it gave to the world that I think brands have taken for granted and other platforms have basically misused. Twitter was the brand that put [the hashtag] into the world.”

Before joining Twitter, Jenkins served as global creative director of advertising at Apple/Beats by Dre. He began his career as an art director at the Martin Agency before going on to senior roles at Wieden & Kennedy and TBWA/Chiat/Day.

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