Lander’s Third Annual Art Walk Celebrates Students’ Creativity and Passion

April 17, 2023

Looking out the car window at clouds on family road trips inspired the gloriously bright paintings that Kephira Davis created for Lander University’s third annual Uptown Art Walk and BFA Senior Exhibit.

Davis, a senior from Greenville, was among the University’s students presenting their paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics and other works of art culminating their years of study before graduation.

During a packed reception at the Arts Center of Greenwood, Davis said many late nights and weekends were spent to finish her portion of the gallery show as she also juggled two part-time jobs and classes. Only she could know the hours required to produce the large paintings for her show, “Reminiscence.”

In addition to the Arts Center, Lander’s students displayed their creative works at Flynn’s on Maxwell and Sundance Gallery, while area artists’ works were shown at Main and Maxwell, Good Times Brewing and The Mill House.

“The show is a collection of very well-thought-out artwork. The B.F.A students worked very hard to develop this work over many months, and it is a celebration of the knowledge they’ve gained during that time,” said Doug McAbee, art professor at Lander.  “We are always thinking about how to prepare our students for life after graduation and this exhibit is just one example.”

McAbee said the students took the responsibility of creating the artwork, and then working with him and Jennifer Smith, the Arts Center director, to plan the exhibit. “Students also arranged for transportation of the work and then installed the work in the space.  They designed their own postcards, wrote artist statements and did everything a working artist would need to do for a solo exhibit.  This experience prepares them to exhibit their work on their own in the future.”

Davis said her art embodies the transitory nature of the sky and memory. “I photograph transitional periods of the sky, as the colors are more vivid and striking,” she said. “Digitally, I blend my images together creating more passages that emphasize the transition from reality to memory … From my little hand on my mother’s chest to making medicine in acorns with my sisters, I think back on past moments in time that I’ve shared with my family members, which are still vivid in my mind.”

Davis hopes to continue her education after graduating in May by studying art history or pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts. “This show definitely is about my transition from being a student to a true artist,” she said.

Memories played a significant role in the work of Hannah Sacay-Bagwell, whose 13-foot tree sculpture dominated the gallery. The tree, with cloth leaves reaching toward the ceiling, was composed of paper mache, chicken wire, zip ties and pvc pipes. It was wrapped in a huge pink bow – reminiscent of the bows placed to adorn trees and doors when a new baby is arriving home from the hospital.

Sacay-Bagwell was adopted as a young girl by Joey and Monique Bagwell, of Greenwood. The tree is similar to one in the book, “Motherbridge of Love,” which celebrates the power of love  through adoption. Adjacent to the tree was the desk from her childhood room and a display of miniature boxes, postcards, hand-made cards to her parents and other items which the artist treasures.

For her “Keepsakes” exhibit, Sacay-Bagwell said, “My work revolves around my childhood journey and obsessions. I depict this by pulling ideas from my own experiences and collection of memorabilia. From a young age, I learned to appreciate the value behind any given moment, and I did this by attaching that memory to an object.”

Artist Lux Blair, of Lexington, was looking into the future for the sculptures she created for her exhibit of a post-apocalyptic world created after the crash of an asteroid in the northwest portion of the United States. Some of her animal sculptures featured mutations of wings, horns and spines, the result of contaminated water spread throughout the nation. “I was trying to combine fantasy and realism,” she said.

Blair described her display as “a hypothetical museum exhibition that would take place after an apocalyptic event documenting the effects it would have on the world.”

Like Davis, Blair said the exhibit required long hours and stress. “It also was a lot of fun.”

Alongside the B.F.A. solo exhibits, Lander’s Art + Design seniors, who are in the University’s B.A. degree program, presented their art during the show.

“The exhibit and the reception also provide an opportunity for celebration.  It’s wonderful to share the work with our Greenwood community and to have so many family members and friends attend,” McAbee said.