Byars Hall serves as a hub for the fine arts.
The three-story building includes a classroom for Art History, studios for Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking, A darkroom and digital art lab for Photography and Graphic Design, and 2 student art galleries.
The building is the oldest academic structure on the Emory & Henry campus, with most of the current structure having been built in 1889. Fire destroyed two buildings previously located on the same site. The first of those was a boarding house designed by Col. William Byars, one of the college’s founders, and constructed in 1836–37. To honor Byars’ contributions to the life of Emory & Henry, the building bears his name.
Meet Our Alumni
- <div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_profiles_headline"><a href="/live/profiles/685-emily-wallace"><p> The Big (Pimento) Cheese</p></a></h4><div class="lw_profiles_description"><p> If you need to know the proper grammatical usage for the word “grits” – look no farther than <strong>Emily Wallace ’04</strong>. Emily studied creative writing and art at Emory & Henry, earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and earned a master’s degree in folklore from UNC-Chapel Hill – and in the process she managed to find a niche in the world of food and academia that is now feeding her career.</p><p> Emily is the deputy editor of <em>Southern Cultures</em> (<a href="http://www.southerncultures.org/">www.southerncultures.org</a>), a 20-year-old academic journal produced by The Center for the Study of the American South at UNC – where she happens to be the Director of Communications. In addition to this full-time venture, she also works as a freelance writer and artist contributing articles and illustrations for a wide array of publications including <em>The Washington Post</em>, <em>Indy Week</em>, <em>Our State</em> magazine, <em>GOOD</em> magazine, and the <em>Oxford American –</em> just to name a few. She was the featured illustrator for the 2013 Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium – adding her talent and quirky humor to tea towels, notepads and symposium swag.</p><p> She has written revealing articles and scholarly works on things commonly found on our pantry shelves like Duke’s Mayonnaise, the Oreo Cookie, and pimento cheese. In fact, her master’s thesis was on pimento cheese. More about that later! She creates art that combines her humor with her appreciation for food, including an illustration for <em>Our State</em> that explains the difference between “Quick, Grits!” and “Quick Grits;” a drawing for the <em>Indy Week</em> that highlights the allure of “discounted and desperate closeout candy;” and an illustrated show-down between cake and pie about who’s the best (in the end, they both get served).</p><p> In short, Emily has found a niche for herself in the food world as a sought-out contributor. So how does that happen?</p><p> While working on her master’s at UNC, she took a course that changed the direction of her studies. I signed up for a food writing class in hopes to strengthen my writing with little regard of the topic, but was introduced to a field of study that’s now an important part of my career. We were tasked with documenting someone or something in the food industry, and my topic—pimento cheese—became much more than the simple sandwich spread I knew from my childhood in North Carolina. It provided a window into working class experience, memory, and regional identity, and became the focus of my master’s thesis and subsequent articles.”</p><p> Recently she’s been asked to speak and write about Duke’s mayonnaise following a <em>Washington Post</em>article on the popular southern staple. She jokes, “I’m sort of on the mayonnaise circuit lately.” But more often than not, she’s asked to talk about pimento cheese. Several years ago she was invited by the Southern Foodways Alliance to speak on this topic and was excited to run into E&H’s Dr. Ed Davis who was there to talk about collard greens. She says she wasn’t surprised to find Dr. Davis, a geography professor, at a symposium about food. “We didn’t have a food studies program at Emory & Henry, but we were encouraged to think creatively across disciplines. He was there doing that with his work on culture and collards, and I was there to talk similarly about pimiento peppers.”</p><p> As a student, Emily worked in the Appalachian Center for Community Service as an Appalachian Associate, and she says her time in that role prepared her for much of the work she is doing now. “The Appalachian Center taught me the value of working within a community and learning from other people’s stories and experiences. Along with studying southern writers in the English department, it informed my decision to document and the study the region where I’m from, understanding that no story is too small or too obscure. It’s no coincidence that I’ve landed at a similar place–the Center for the Study of the American South–which also emphasizes regional scholarship in national and global contexts.” You can enjoy Emily’s writing and artwork at her website: <a href="http://www.eewallace.com/">www.eewallace.com</a></p></div><a href="/live/profiles/685-emily-wallace" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div>
- <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/874-"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,664/918_Laura_Holley_2.rev.1509131760.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,664/918_Laura_Holley_2.rev.1509131760.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,664/918_Laura_Holley_2.rev.1509131760.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,664/918_Laura_Holley_2.rev.1509131760.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,664/918_Laura_Holley_2.rev.1509131760.jpg" alt="Laura Holley with one of her trailhead exhibit signs (1 of 25 installed spring of 2016)." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,664/918_Laura_Holley_2.rev.1509131760.jpg 2x" data-max-w="1000" data-max-h="664" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_profiles_headline"><a href="/live/profiles/874-"><p> Laura Holley isn’t using her art skills as planned – but she’s bringing a lot of great talent to the National Park System!</p></a></h4><div class="lw_profiles_description"><p> Laura Holley Thomas is a long way from fashion magazines.</p><p> Laura (E&H ’10) majored in art and minored in environmental studies, and she’s finding the two disciplines to be a perfect match for the work she’s doing: a special 4-year long project that has her planning, researching, writing and designing trailhead and wayside exhibits for the entirety of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota – all 110 square miles. “I’m using art, design, and the written word to communicate information about plants, animals, human culture, climate change, habitats, ecosystems, etc. Though, had I known there was more to graphic design than making fashion magazines (I kid you not. That’s what I really thought.) I might have taken more classes focused on digital art.”</p><p> Laura has been with the National Park Service for 5 years, all of which has been spent at Theodore Roosevelt. She began as a full-time volunteer (citing that volunteerism is something she saw emphasized at Emory & Henry). That led to several paid seasonal positions, and now to this current assignment. She says this is her dream job…“But, it’s temporary! So I’ll be moving on with another job or another project here or at another park. I’d like to make a career with the NPS, but gaining permanent status is difficult, so I’m keeping other options open.”</p><p> Her job experiences can’t be calculated within the confines of a resume. “Often I’ll get called away from my desk to help with whatever is going on in the park. We have a really small staff, so we all pitch in. I’ve helped return escaped bison to the park, assisted with elk reduction efforts, helped at bison roundups, helped with a prescribed burn, illustrated our new junior ranger book, led bird counts, helped plan our annual astronomy festival, done on-camera interviews with the media, gone on search and rescues, and so much more.”</p><p> And her current project to develop signage is more than busy work: it feeds into her core beliefs about the importance of National Parks. “My biggest concern is that the NPS will become irrelevant. We have to inspire each next generation to care for and about our American landscape and its history or we risk losing our relevancy. But staying relevant shouldn’t be difficult. Our parks speak for themselves. I’ve watched people look up and see the Milky Way for the first time. It’s something they (and I) will never forget. And they’ll remember that the clearest, darkest, most uninhibited sky they’ve ever seen was above a national park and they’ll understand why we protect this place. We just have to get people into their parks and make sure their experiences are meaningful and memorable. That’s what this signage project is all about. Hopefully the exhibits I create will inspire visitors to connect intellectually and emotionally with the park and its resources and turn those personal connections into active stewardship of this place and the public lands in their own communities.”</p><p> Laura’s experiences have run the gamut from wildlife management to designing websites and social media content. She even designed a special pictorial postmark to commemorate this year’s National Park Centennial (an honor stamp aficionados can appreciate). And she admits that some of the skills she’s using now were learned in E&H classes she didn’t think were all that important. “In my first few seasons as a ranger I was writing and presenting interpretive programs (tours, guided hikes, campfire talks, etc.). I leaned heavily on what I learned in speech class which I would absolutely never have signed up for had it not been mandatory!”</p><p> If you find yourself in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, look for Ranger Laura…and certainly, look for her signs.</p><p> </p><p><em><a href="https://www.ehc.edu/live/image/gid/68/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.jpg" class="lw_preview_image"><picture class="lw_image lw_image919 lw_align_left lw_column_width_half"> <source type="image/webp" media="(max-width: 500px)" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/500/height/667/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/500/height/667/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/500/height/667/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/webp" media="(min-width: 501px)" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" media="(max-width: 500px)" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/500/height/667/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/500/height/667/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/500/height/667/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" media="(min-width: 501px)" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg 3x"/> <img width="611" height="815" alt="Laura Holley Thomas is shown here with her husband, Shawn, who is no longer a ranger, but is now ..." src="/live/image/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/611/height/815/919_Laura_Holley.rev.1509131808.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1944" data-max-h="2592" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a>Photo, left: Laura Holley Thomas is shown here with her husband, Shawn, who is no longer a ranger, but is now a deputy.</em></p><p> </p><p> Submitted October 25, 2016</p></div><a href="/live/profiles/874-" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div>
- <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/710-mary-ruth-pruitt"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,300,226/360_MaryRuthPruitt.rev.1500389298.png 1x"/> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,300,226/360_MaryRuthPruitt.rev.1500389298.png 1x"/> <source type="image/png" srcset="/live/image/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,300,226/360_MaryRuthPruitt.rev.1500389298.png 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,300,226/360_MaryRuthPruitt.rev.1500389298.png" alt="" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="300" data-max-h="226" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_profiles_headline"><a href="/live/profiles/710-mary-ruth-pruitt"><p> Honors Alum Completes First Graphic Novel </p></a></h4><div class="lw_profiles_description"><h5> Talented and driven — Mary Ruth is a successful young artist who has completed her first graphic novel, The Rodentiad. </h5><p> Mary Ruth graduated from Emory & Henry College in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She is continuing to work as an active artist, and sell paintings and drawings, while working towards a Masters of Fine Arts in Illustration at Memphis College of Art. Her present illustrative project is a graphic novel focused on the lives of artistic couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This project will be largely historical fiction, sprinkled with elements of magical realism, with a cast of lizards and frogs. She hopes this graphic narrative will be both an educational and enjoyable adventure for its readers. Her completed graphic novel, <em>The Rodentiad</em>, is being prepared to be submitted to publishers.</p></div><a href="/live/profiles/710-mary-ruth-pruitt" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div>