Tomorrow’s art community, hard at work today, PART 3

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.

This post highlights nine students from UNCC’s Art & Art History Department. They may be finished with their semester, but their work as artists is just getting started.


University of North Carolina Charlotte
Eldred Hudson, Department Chair, Art & Art History
Click here to learn more about the Department of Art & Art History in the UNCC College of Arts & Architecture.

Featured students:

Maham Ahmed
Charlotte, NC

UNCC - Maham Ahmed Headshot.jpg

Thesis: Self-defense mechanisms in nature and animals

Future Plans: I am planning on attending graduate school in London, to pursue a graduate fashion degree.

“In a world where technology and nature are often at war with each other, I am interested in finding ways to allow the two to work in harmony. For this body of work, I recreated self-defense and survival mechanisms that occur in nature, making garments that represent different animals and the ways they protect themselves. While recreating these defenses, I was influenced by biomimetics, which is the science of using technology to imitate nature. All of the garments incorporate some form of technology – either physically, as a part of the garment, or through the technology used in the process of making the garments. By using technology to imitate nature, I want to bridge the gap between the ways that animals defend themselves and how we as humans defend ourselves. The garments do this by allowing people to literally wear the defenses that animals use. They appear to be either protective, defensive or inviting to either repel predators or to attract prey. This body of work explores themes, such as predator versus prey, nature and technology, evolution, self-defense, protection, attraction and animal instincts.”

UNCC - Mahamdetail2

UNCC - Mahamdetail


Rebekah Hansen
Texarkana, TX

UNCC - Beka Hansen005 (2)-1

Themes: Overstimulation, positive psychology (Pleasant Life), hoarding

Future Plans: Continue working in studio space I have through the Cabarrus Arts Guild in Concord, NC

“I am interested in the overabundance of imagery and objects we encounter each day. I find irony in the idea that we collect objects to give us a sense of happiness, yet the same objects can overwhelm us if we amass too many. The goal of the installation was to create a space that was visually overwhelming to the viewer. I cut large tile forms out of boards and mounted flower shaped ceramic bowls to them. Each surface is adorned in pattern, texture and color.“

UNCC - Beka Hansen overstimulation


Jonathan Helms
Concord, NC

UNCC - Jonathan Helms headshot.jpg

Thesis: Selfies

Future Plans: I won’t be graduating this semester, so I have time to think about what I want to do with my life. At some point, I hope to get the opportunity to go to graduate school to get my masters in photography, but for now I’m still thinking.

My work explores digital reproduction, looking at selfie culture and screens as a modern mode to reproduce images. Each piece in my series is a photo transfer on acrylic, which is placed in a light box. I want to bring these digital images back into the physical world by creating more than just a photo print, but an object.”

UNCC - Jonathan Helms selfie


Kelly Magee
Charlotte, NC

UNCC - Magee headshot

Thesis: “That Once Was”

Future Plans: After graduation, I will start my own business as a photographer.

“For this series, I focused on family farms in Charlotte and surrounding areas. I photographed local farms as they are seen today. I distressed the images on the computer, printed them on Kilimanjaro paper, then altered the printed images with watercolor. The translucent and faded quality of the watercolor represents the disappearance of family farms today.”

UNCC - Magee Farmhouse1


Jordyn Maynor
Chapel Hill, NC

UNCC - Jordyn Maynor headshot.jpg

Thesis: Self-portraiture, “The Sound of Silence”

“My work focuses on self-portraiture and the physical, mental, and emotional affects of depression. The compositions of my self-portraits are of myself expressing my day-to-day emotions and environments. Where words have failed, photography has become a way to bridge communication gaps between others and myself. With my own experience of trying to explain my mentality, it has become overwhelming and frustrating. My photographs are a way of communicating the feelings of isolation and detachment from the outside world. My self-portraits have become a way to visualize and communicate what depression is about.”

UNCC - Jordyn Maynor - self portrait


Sapun Ngoensritong
Bangkok, Thailand

UNCC - Sapunheadshot

Thesis: “Despair of the Unfamiliar”

“Having grown up in abject poverty in Thailand, a place known as a vacation destination to westerners, few are aware of or exposed to the country’s poverty or social inequality. [Through my mother’s stories and my own experiences], I became aware of the isolation, powerlessness, and dehumanization of the many people in my community. The question that circulates through my mind and my work is: “Is poverty truly impossible to break out of?” My paintings convey the sense of helplessness that prevents people from taking action and attempting to change their lives. The work recreates sceneries, stories, and memories of those whose lives were unacknowledged [or those who were unable] to communicate their social realities. The silk I use as a substrate emphasizes a contrast between the fine, delicate material that symbolizes wealth and my family’s career path as laborers in the textile industry.”

UNCC - Sapun2UNCC - Sapun1


Brianna Robinson
Charlotte, NC

UNCC - Brianna Robinson headshot (1).jpg

Thesis: Racism and violence in the African-American community

Future Plans: Continue volunteering in Charlotte art galleries

“Historically, the veil is a symbol of sadness and grief, but it carries more than that. [All of us, across this world] carry a veil. The veil represents the traumatic experiences we all have been or are currently going through. Our worries, frustrations, and our scared voices are all trapped within. Therefore, we become emotional and we express our pain under this fabric. The veil of the African-American community weighs heavy as it carries the long history of racism and discrimination, as well as its [lingering] effects.”

UNCC - Brianna Robinson_Tito.jpg


Nora Shafer
Concord, NC
Ceramics Sculpture

UNCC - Nora Shafer004 headshot

Thesis: Examining how the memory of an object is imbued with meaning over a lifetime.

Future Plans: Continue creating in home studio while pursuing gallery opportunities.

“This piece explores the idea of our sentiments collectively building the physical walls that define our spaces. Just like the walls in our homes define areas in our physical lives, this work defines the mental spaces that our desires create.”

UNCC - Nora Shafer memory


Sheridan Starnes
Matthews, NC

UNCC - Sheridan Starnesheadshot (1)

Future Plans: Post graduation, I plan on spending some time traveling and developing commercial photography opportunities.

“My senior exhibition work is done in an alternative process called salt printing, which is slightly misleading. A salt water solution is applied to a paper material, which acts a stabilizer for the light sensitive material, silver nitrate. Currently untitled, my work focuses on the digital to dark room conversion. I turn digital images into negatives so that I can use them for contact printing for salt prints. My imagery focuses on removing the objectification of the female figure, as the figure’s presence within the photograph is questioned.”

UNCC - SheridanStarnes-artwork example

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