Southern Virginia

Senior Spotlight: Serena Call

Art Blog: What are you doing for senior show?

Serena Call: I am painting the Washington D.C. Temple, and surrounding landscape, using Oils and Acrylics.


AB: What inspired you to choose that subject and medium?

SC: I realized that I’d be spending most of my time this semester working on my senior art show projects. I really wanted to work on something that was meaningful to me and would be something that I’d want hanging in my home in the future. I grew up here in Buena Vista, and Buena Vista is part of the Washington D.C. Temple district. I love the Temple and all that it signifies and represents in my faith, and the D.C. Temple in particular is special to me because that was the temple I’d always been preparing to go to. Just last year I was sealed there to my husband. So, needless to say, the Washington D.C. Temple is very meaningful to me.
Now, there are lots of paintings of temples out there, but I wanted to do paintings that were a little different. Most of the paintings try to be “photo realistic” and therefore, in my opinion, end up being really boring. Why not just take a photograph? I decided I wanted to do vibrant, colorful, impressionistic paintings of the temple and surrounding landscape. I chose to paint in Oil Colors specifically because I love painting with a palette knife and using texture in my paintings.


AB: Have different artists or people influenced you and your work?

SC: Leonid Afremov, a modern impressionist painter, has inspired me a lot. I love his use of vibrant colors and textures and I definitely have incorporated those aspects into my work since discovering him. Van Gogh, famous for his post impressionist paintings, has also inspired my work. He uses vibrant colors and planned patterns and brush strokes to make beautiful and expressive works of art.

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AB: How and when did you choose to become an art major? Have you known since the beginning or was it a change?

SC: I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I first came to SVU. I knew that I loved art, but I was also interested in a lot of different things as well. However, after having a few art classes here, I decided that I would at least double major in Art. I was planning on double majoring in Family and Child Development (FCD) and Art, but last year I got married and realized that I probably only had time to focus on one major. So, I ultimately made the decision to major in Art and minor in FCD at the beginning of my senior year.


AB: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned here in the Southern Virginia Art Program?

SC: That’s a tough question. I feel like I’ve learned a lot being here in the SVU Art Program. It’s hard not to when we have such wonderful professors who have the unique opportunity to really work one on one with students. I guess one important lesson I’ve learned here is that to really improve you need to go above and beyond. Making sure that you do your best on every assignment and putting in more work and time than is required of you in each class. Making more art and practicing more is truly the way to improve and to do so faster.


AB: Do you listen to music when you work? If so, who?

SC: Sometimes I do. I’ll listen to Muse, Mika, Lana Del Rey, and many other artists. I’ll often listen to an LDS General Conference talk or CES Fireside talk as well.

AB: What advice would you give lower classman who are working towards senior show?

SC: Start thinking about it now! The sooner, you decide what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, the better. Then, once the time comes around to start working on Senior Show, you can start right away rather than stressing about everything.

Class Adventures: A Peek into the Archives

After first arriving at Southern Virginia several years ago, Doug Himes was astounded at how many of his art students had never made the journey north to visit the National Gallery of Art, one the single greatest art collections in the world. From then on, he promised to make sure each and every student had the opportunity to walk through its halls and admire its vast spectrum of works — from ancient to contemporary.


This last Friday, Himes’ advanced drawing and printmaking classes, a group of seasoned gallery veterans, were given the opportunity to not only walk the halls of the Smithsonian, but to venture into the elusive print studies room. There, they were able to see and study the works of artistic giants like Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, M.C. Escher and Albrecht Dürer. And the best part? No crowds and no glass. Students literally had inches between them and the different pieces.

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“I couldn’t resist admiring the finesse and skill in which these masters created their pieces,” expressed Taelor Worthington, a junior and art major at Southern Virginia.



“There’s an honesty and a sense of trust that comes from being able to see a work up close and personal,” said Ben Patty, a senior and fellow art major. “When you see the pen strokes on the original, you realize the artist’s abilities were far more incredible than you had imagined. You can feel the emotion and trust that nothing has changed since they put the pen down. Honestly, after seeing them in person, it felt wrong to go back and look at a copy.”


“After that experience, I now realize I would rather spend an entire day in a room with a few pieces of art — really be able to study them and understand what the artist was thinking and trying to convey — than walk a whole museum.”


Photography by Serena Call, a senior and art major at Southern Virginia University. 

Senior Adventures: Studio Visits

For Southern Virginia art students, the senior show acts as a culminating experience. They are free to imagine, create and show a collection of work that is all their own; however,  Being an artist is not as easy as many people believe. For seniors, the pressure to foster a cohesive body of work by the end of the semester can range from daunting to debilitating.

In swoops Barbara Crawford, art professor extraordinaire.

Having taught art at the school for nearly 35 years, Professor Crawford stands in a place to help guide students seeking inspiration and advice.

Now three weeks into the semester, the seniors are finalizing their projects and getting down to business. But before the paintbrushes and canvases are broken out, Professor Crawford wanted to take them on a field trip to her own studio and that of a local friend’s, Lenny Lyons Bruno.

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Students were then invited inside to talk about their various ideas and projects.


Plus, they got to see Crawford’s cute old-man cat, Koko.


Then, the seniors packed themselves into their cars and drove to the nearby studio of Lenny Lyons Bruno, an accomplished local artist, and her son Chris Bruno. Here, the seniors were able to ask questions and learn about the different creative processes an artist goes through as they begin new work.

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