Student Exhibition

Emory & Henry Art Department Student Exhibition 


Visual art students at Emory & Henry display a rare creative and entrepreneurial spirit that starts with a unique hands-on approach to learning from our award-winning faculty. This expertise carries on long after graduation and into the professional world. Each individual explores a rich array of approaches toward creating while investing original ideas through painting, drawing, photography, collage, graphic design, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, mixed media, and any number of combinations of art-making techniques.

We are proud to present their research at the McGlothlin Center for the Arts. 


  • Dustin Ernest, Project Yourself

    Dustin Ernest

    My work focuses on the good and bad ways in which technology affects us and the world in which we live. I chose this topic because technology is a major part of human lifestyle and has completely changed how we live, and even though something is a very important and influential part of life, everything still has good and bad sides. A lot of my project also delves into science fiction and possibilities of technological advances and setbacks in a world of ever-advancing technology.

    An example of a good way that technology affects, or could later affect society is through the invention of teleportation. An example of a bad way is that technology could replace people in positions of employment and cause the need for human labor to decrease, like what is already happening with self-checkout counters in stores.

    I chose the pixelated letters for the headings and binary code for the side margins to give a technological and computerized feeling to all of my works. Each work has something different written in the binary code. I chose a black background to give a sleek and simple look, and I changed the colors to match the effect of that technology, like green for good, red for bad.

    I am inspired by graphic designers and artists who have a sketchy, almost abstract way of making art, while also being simple and to the point, like Saul Bass and Milton Glaser. Bass uses simple and recognizable shapes that are stylized and not completely realistic, and also prominently uses colors in his work as well. Milton Glaser also uses color prominently in his works, along with simple shapes and images to give his work a psychedelic feel.


    Dustin Ernest was born on April 1, 1997 in Marion, VA. He has “studied under” his Art Teachers at Emory & Henry, like Charles Goolsby, Candace Butler, Michael Wright, and Dan Van Tassell. Ernest went to Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA,  from when he graduated high school in 2015 until he graduated in 2019 with a degree in Graphic Design. In 2015, he graduated from Marion Senior High School in Marion, VA.

    Ernest uses various kinds of media for his art, such as graphic design, painting, drawing, and printmaking. His senior project in Graphic Design deals with the positive and negative effects that technology has on humans and the world that we live in. He uses painting and drawing as ways to unwind, so there is no particular theme in his paintings or drawings. He tends to be more realistic in his drawings and paintings, but his graphic design work tends to be simple.

    He has been making art, particularly drawing, since he was able to walk, and his family has always enjoyed his work. His oldest sibling has had an influence on him since he was little as well, because she is an artist who mostly paints in the Bristol area.

    Keep reading

  • Ellen Hicks, Dismantled

    Ellen Hicks

    The process of painting is a cathartic process for me. After experiencing a difficult loss of a loved one during my sophomore year of college, I never fully returned to a state of peace. The death of my grandfather challenged my already-wavering Christian faith. Through repressing my experience, I continued to struggle as discretely as possible without drawing attention to this change in my mindset, as being vulnerable does not come naturally to me. Eventually, this pent up energy found a much-needed outlet through creating abstract art.

    The act of applying oil paint to my canvases allows me to trust my own intuition and be vulnerable. I confront suppressed feelings by painting in abstraction. Abstract art provides the opportunity to symbolize personal content without exposing every detail through recognizable subjects. I explore the complexity of my experiences and my faith through applying paint using painting methods and mediums, like walnut alkyd oil and cold wax. Some reoccurring symbols in my art are the cross, contrast in paint finishes, and layers. These symbols may relate to my faith, connection to family, or the burden of loss. The titles of these pieces provide insight to my paintings, often in the form of a date or a word that the content of the work is related to.

    When I paint, I am in a conversation with each canvas. There are ups and downs, times when I need to walk away, and when I need to be vulnerable. Each canvas focuses on an emotion or experience I have repressed over the past two years. As I paint, I must confront these emotions and experiences to create a piece I can connect with. These paintings satisfy my need to address loss, faith, and loss of faith. I encourage viewers to be open to making their own connections.


    Ellen Hicks was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in January, 1998. Hicks, named after her great-grandmother Lula Ellen, has held strong familial ties her entire life. The lessons she learned from her grandparents, parents, and sister shaped who she is today.

    Hicks is currently a student at Emory & Henry College and is expected to graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelors of Art (B.A.) in Studio Art and a B.A. in Mass Communications. As an artist and communicator, she learned how to explain art in ways that are exciting and accessible to people with various backgrounds of artistic understanding. In 2014, Hicks traveled to San Francisco, CA to attend a National Geographic Student Expedition under the teachings of Susan Suebert, a photographer for National Geographic Traveler. 

    At Emory & Henry College, Hicks is a member of the school newspaper, The Whitetopper, where she serves as Website Editor, Head Photographer, and Business Manager. Hicks is a member of the Emory & Henry Honors Program, Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society, and Blue Key Honors Society.

    Hicks works primary with oil paints on canvas. For the artist, abstract art provides the opportunity to symbolize personal content without exposing every detail through recognizable subjects. Reoccurring symbols in her art are crosses, contrast in paint finishes, and layers. These symbols relate to faith, connection to family, or the burden of loss.

    In 2018, Hicks experienced the traumatic death of her grandfather which affected her Christian faith. Hicks’ paintings satisfy her need to face loss, faith, and loss of faith; however, she invites viewers to make their own connections to her pieces.

    Keep reading

  • Theresa Mitten, Rise

    Theresa Mitten

    Injustice and inequality in the United States of America is common and incredibly problematic. These events occur as the result of a widening socioeconomic gap, due to the capitalist agenda of the American economy. Specifically, I’ve found this discrimination to run rampant in the American healthcare system. The injustice and inequality explored in this show can be relatable for many, even if the sensitive nature is uncomfortable to discuss. Through thought and reflection, create visual representations reflecting on the expression of personal relationships. 

    I create works of art that showcase my life experiences, including mistreatment due to the injustices and inequalities of a flawed economic system. My senior art exhibition, Hypermnesia is a culmination of my interactions with struggle. I am advocating for the victims of America’s crusade for abundance. The work I create is appropriated from print and three-dimensional media, that has been recontextualized for an altered perception. Works are united as a using fibrous materials to connect each rendering to my personal experiences with the healthcare industry. The viewer looks in on intimate experiences of my life, gathering sensory information through natural human curiosity. 

    My father’s untimely death in 2006 has inspired me to be a maker of art and a catalyst of change. Exploring these emotions and relationships have helped form a stronger foundation for visual renderings of advocacy. Without the connection of people, there is no dialog, and without dialog, facing conflict is impossible and change will never happen. As I look back on my past, my memories manifest themselves to search for truth.


    Theresa Mitten is a mixed media artist based in Emory, VA. Born in the Appalachian region of Northeast Pennsylvania, Theresa was inspired to become an artist from hearing stories and creating renderings of her family’s heritage. Theresa’s works explore her memories and the relationships of her ancestors. In creating art, she finds unity with others. Studying under artists Maria Livrone, Charles Goolsby, Manda Remmen, and Dan Van Tassell, Theresa Mitten has established a style that incorporates mixed media and storytelling into collage works.    

    Theresa found her inspiration for visual storytelling through learning gallery display and large scale organization techniques at Art on Mainbased in her hometown of Pittston, PA. Her first group curated show, Faces,furthered her interest in art and museum work, resulting in a desire to learn more about her passions. While interning at the Birthplace of Country Music Museumin Bristol, VA, she created over 500 archive catalog records and helped accession the Bailey Brothers collection. Theresa serves as a Bonner Scholar at Emory & Henry College where she served on the Freedman’s Transcription Bureau leadership team. The Freedman’s Transcription Bureau transcribed historical documents and published their work in Summer 2019. Mitten’s senior exhibition titled, Hypermnesia,opened in Fall of 2019 at Emory & Henry College in the Byars Gallery. In her free time, Theresa enjoys walking with her dog, Buttercup, perusing used bookstores, exploring new genres of music, and drinking cold brew coffee.

    Keep reading

  • Hannah Muller, Stuck (detail)

    Hannah Muller

    Meraki — when you leave a piece of yourself in your work. Soft and feminine; intense and unapproachable; minimalist and abstracted. All of these adjectives coalesce to describe my art. My work and the motivations behind why I make it is complex. As a whole, sculpting with clay is a cathartic process that reveals my inner thoughts and feelings. This body of work is specifically vulnerable as it deals with the emotional turmoil of rebuilding my identity after my dad’s unexpected death, and the raw emotion that was kept hidden from others’ view. The sculpting of the figures I create is a literal and metaphorical rebirth of who I was. It was a re-founding of my psyche, my self-image, and who I wanted to be as an individual moving forward in my new, drastically altered life.

    The rounded shape of my forms also explores the complexities of femininity and the feminine form itself. Females are stereotypically thought of as soft and gentle, similarly to how one thinks of a sphere. I use this shape to represent how I was told to feel when in reality, all I felt was jagged and broken after losing my dad. All of the figures represent various states of being that I felt while grieving and subsequently healing. Standing from a distance one might see something vulnerable, yearning to comfort it. Upon further inspection however, the object you once thought to be vulnerable is in truth cold, jagged, and stand-offish towards the world, herself, and her art. Through a long and arduous journey, healing became possible, and the unthinkable evolved into reality. The abstracted forms represent healing and acceptance through the colored, rounded shapes. They exude warmth and elysian peace. Not completely soft and feminine, but also no longer intense and unapproachable. 


    Growing up in a conservative area in the rural city of Hagerstown, Maryland, Hannah Muller had a set of expectations placed before her on how to act and exist as a female. This along with the unexpected death of her father at the age of fifteen drastically altered how she viewed herself as an individual. The rounded forms of her body of work and explore her personal definition and expression of femininity in the wake of her ‘new’ life. Needles are used around the figures as a representation of her mental state during the time of her grieving. Despite the spikes, her pieces are designed in size and shape to invoke a sense of vulnerability. The figures want to be held, but if one gets too close, they will get pricked by the various placement of the needles. 

    Hannah has worked in a professional gallery on the Emory & Henry campus for 3 years, giving her not only curatorial practice, but also the opportunity to work with and converse with a large variety of artists that have exhibited at the gallery. Continuing her collegiate education at Emory & Henry College, Hannah works towards improving and expanding her portfolio to be able to start work right out of college as an artist with her own ceramic studio.

    Keep reading

  • Chelsea Sneed, Raging Raiju

    Chelsea Snead

    To Those In-between. As a child, I was an avid reader. Any type of printed word available was fine, but what caught my attention most were words that told a story. One of my favorite stories was a picture book version of the classic fairy tale The Bremen Town Musicians. It had the most beautiful and expressive illustrations to complement the tale. This book was a large part of the reason that I developed a love of the fantastical, magical, mythical and legendary.

    To me, books and stories are windows to other worlds, and I wanted to be a part of them all. Curiosity drove me to look deeper. The saying goes that every story has two sides, but there are so many varying accounts to each myth that make me believe that there are many more. I seek to take these tales and condense them into a single concept to depict them as something that could exist. Stories and traditions exist across all cultures and bringing them to life as beasts blurs the lines between people. 

    The art I create taps into a childlike love of storytelling and fantasy. There is, however, a degree of darkness and uncertainty, as my art lives in places where things simultaneously exist and do not. It represents things left unsaid, in the same way that a fairy tale ends in happily ever after, yet often no one is concerned about what the “after” entails. Is there happiness to these stories, or does something dark remain unseen after the book is closed? I leave these works as an answer to those struggling in-between worlds of their own making.


    Chelsea Snead grew up in Salem, in the Roanoke area of Virginia. The small town feel of Salem, coupled with frequent visits to her maternal grandmother’s house in the mountains gave her an appreciation for nature and an active imagination. Having been raised around animals for the entirety of her childhood, she developed a keen love and curiosity for creatures of all types. This, in addition to the artsy nature of the people around her, led to drawing a plethora of animals, both real and imagined. She also devoted a large amount of time to her schoolwork. 

    When she was older, she developed an interest in learning about other cultures, partly due to her paternal grandmother who was English, and partly due to the influence of reading foreign books. Books displaying fantasy elements inspired from legends were among her favorites growing up. This childlike intrigue of folklore eventually gave her the itch to travel, so in high school she visited both Italy and Greece, while in college she studied abroad in Japan. 

    She successfully completed her senior art show in the spring of 2020, and will be participating in a virtual art show in the near future. Outside of her art, Snead has been successful in her academic career at college, maintaining a high GPA and being a member of the Honors Program for all four years of attendance. Chelsea Snead will graduate from Emory & Henry College in May with a Bachelor’s degree in both Studio Art and Biology. Other than drawing and painting, she likes to read, sit with her dog and cat, or relax and play games during her free time.

    Keep reading