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Myrtle Beach Art Museum hires CCU alumna Devann Gardner

June 25, 2019
Devann Gardner '18 now works at the art museum in Myrtle Beach.Devann's boyfriend proposed to her on campus in 2018, and the couple was married in April 2019.

Devann Gardner, 2018 Coastal Carolina University graduate, is already painting the picture of the life she always wanted. She became the new children’s art educator at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Myrtle Beach Art Museum in Myrtle Beach this past May.

Gardner majored in art studio with a concentration on painting and a minor in art history. She grew up in Murrells Inlet, S.C., and graduated from St. James High School. She decided to attend CCU because it was close to home and she felt an instant connection with the art community.

“I always knew the only thing I was passionate about career-wise was in the art world,” said Gardner. “Coastal had a small student-teacher ratio for their art department so I could get the guidance I wanted.”

During her time at CCU, Gardner took classes that focused on painting. She was also an art history department tutor. Many of the classes she took were impactful on her career choices, with influence from her professors as well. Her professors contributed to her transformation from a student into a professional through their constructive criticism on her work.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my communication classes mostly due to Dr. Wes Fondren,” said Gardner. “He taught about life lessons in his lectures that were told more like narratives. I contemplated minoring in communication because of his impact on me.”

She later decided to minor in art history after an education abroad trip to Italy. Gardner said that the leader of this trip, Stephanie R. Miller, associate professor of art history and interim chair, was a big influence on her decision to minor in art history.

“One of the aspects I learned about Devann while on the study abroad program in Italy was that she was really curious,” said Miller. “It was really enjoyable talking with her and hearing her questions.”

Gardner’s personal and professional life have changed since graduation, including a move to Conway and the sound of wedding bells. She got married on April 27, 2019, after her boyfriend of five years, Tyler Gardner, proposed to her in the courtyard of the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts building during the Senior Art Exhibition in 2018. For the past year, she focused her time preparing for her wedding, which took place behind 104 Laurel Street under the Conway bridge, while creating the foundation of her professional life.

“I worked for a few months with a local Wine and Design to gain experience teaching basics of painting through classes and private events,” said Gardner. “I interned with the art museum, and I am still researching graduate schools as I plan to get my Master of Fine Arts.”

Gardner’s internship at the art museum led to a job offer, and she started her full-time position as a children’s art educator in May. In this position, she teaches children the foundations of art with the goal of inspiring the next generation of young artists. This summer, Gardner will be teaching at kids’ summer camps in June and July with children ages 5 to 7 and 8 to 12.

Gardner looks forward to using what she learned at CCU from her professors in her career while she is impacting young future artists. The valuable experience of being able to experiment and learn from mistakes will mold the next generation of artists through Gardner’s teaching style.

“What I love about CCU is that students get to experiment, experience, try and fail at new things in their major, but those failures will lead you in the direction of success,” said Gardner.

The Myrtle Beach art museum is located on South Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. It opened in June 1997, but was conceived 13 years earlier by Myrtle Beach visionaries comprised of artists, business leader and cultural enthusiasts. The museum was the recipient of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for outstanding art organization in 2013. The museum boasts new exhibits every few months and currently displays artwork from Myrtle Beach area students. The next exhibit that will be displayed all summer is titled “Emily Esdaile Weston: The Legacy of a Planter’s Wife.”

Admission into the museum is free, but donations are encouraged to keep the “open door policy” alive. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Visit myrtlebeachartmuseum.org.