Tomorrow’s art community, hard at work today

This series by Lisa Rubenson highlights the work of graduating seniors and other advanced-level visual art students from Charlotte-area colleges and universities. 

One of our favorite things to do at HappeningsCLT is introduce you to visual artists. The artists we tend to feature use a range of media to challenge assumptions, evoke emotion, and move us beyond the limits of aesthetics or imagination. Some are well established in their careers. Others are emerging artists, at the threshold of artistic inquiry. Throughout the next month, you’ll meet some of the many talented art students at area colleges. In learning about them, we hope you’ll agree that the future of art is in creative, highly skilled hands.



Winthrop University’s Department of Fine Arts
Tom Stanley, Chair

”[Each of the graduating seniors] has grown enormously through the program and developed a diverse skill set and considerable creative capacity. Their senior year artwork is the result of personal research that took both courage, focus and curiosity to develop. They have been empowered and challenged to keep moving beyond what they already know, and I’m confident they will be able to successfully navigate the creative journey ahead of them.” – Shaun Cassidy, Professor


“[This] is truly an amazing group of students. The dedication to their craft and to each other is present in the terrific and inspiring work, and also through the impression they have left on the department. They have built organizations, promoted awareness, and set high standards for generations of students to come. … I know they will do well in everything they set their hearts and minds to.” – Anne Fiala, Assistant Professor


Visit to see a comprehensive gallery of graduating seniors’ work.

Featured students:

Alyvia Dyches
Rock Hill, SC
Fine Art Photography

WINTHROP - Alyvia Dyches Artist Photo

Thesis: Investigations into double exposures

 “In my photographs, I typically work with medium format film to produce double-exposed images. This creates a surreal, dream-like image, [especially in] certain landscapes and architecture.”

For her series of photographs taken at Colonial Williamsburg, Alyvia used a Holga 120 camera and color negative film. She wanted to capture the essence of the character the actor was playing, while moving past the façade to learn something about the person in the present.

WINTHROP - Alyvia Dyches photo 1WINTHROP - Alyvia Dyches Artist photo 2

photos courtesy of Alyvia Dyches 


 Charles Hickey
Atlanta, GA

WINTHROP - Charlie Hickey - Preferred headshot NEW.jpg

“Certain celebrities, TV shows, even GI Joe or Ken dolls, with their missing anatomy, always seemed to send mixed messages about what it meant to be a man.”

 Charlie deconstructs everyday domestic items — furniture, toys, religious icons – and incorporates them into his three dimensional assemblages. His sculptures, layered with cultural contradictions, are designed to challenge American perceptions of gender and masculinity.

WINTHROP - Charlie Hickey wax figuresWINTHROP - Charlie Hickey photo 2

photos courtesy of Charles Hickey


Jordan Sommer
Lexington, South Carolina
Printmaking and Sculpture  

WINTHROP - Jordan Sommer working in studio

“I have vivid memories of being in middle school. My impressions of this time appear in my work, from the use of neon colors and cutout shapes, to the floral fabrics that remind me of the clothes I used to wear.”

In addition to bringing bright colors and sharp, stenciled edges into her paintings and sculptures, Jordan also works with text from old journals, notes and other sources. She juxtaposes ordinary words and phrases with jarring colors and soft textures, creating in the viewer a nostalgia for many disparate things at once.

WINTHROP - Jordan Sommer art

photos courtesy of Jordan Sommer


Meaghan Westfall
Columbia, SC
Sculpture and Printmaking

WINTHROP - Meaghan Westfall artist at work

Thesis: “Revisiting”

 “My work is a balance between ideal and actuality, what is tangible and intangible.”

 Conical, concrete forms that have been seared open to reflect the measurement of time and depth of memory are prominent features in Meaghan’s work. In creating her multi-sensory vignettes, she asks viewers to consider their own emotions in relation to hers, which appear to be spilling out of the base of her sculptures.

WINTHROP - Meaghan Westfall art 2

Photos courtesy of Meaghan Westfall


Grace Windey
Greenville, SC
Interdisciplinary Art, Sculpture


WINTHROP - Grace Windey Headshot

Thesis: “I Am Different”

 “[My] current work seeks to scrutinize old work and bring [it] into a clearer scope. I am turning trauma into training and practice into preparation.” 

Grace turned the shredded pages of her art sketchbooks into an ink-stained, memory-imbued fabric that she hand-wove into a curved wall sculpture. She stitched together two distinct pieces, bringing visual unity to a work that represents what she considers her disjointed, yet vital, path of self-discovery.

WINTHROP - Grace Windey 2WINTHROP - Windey3WINTHROP - Windey4

Photos of artwork by Charles Hickey

Artist photo by Alyvia Dyches


by Lisa Rubenson, writer, art-lover and contributor to HappeningsCLT.

Stay tuned for updates from other academic programs in the area!




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