Students in the Edwards College win awards and accolades – including a Fulbright scholarship – for their artistic production.
Receiving a Fulbright scholarship is a high honor, and CCU’s first student recipient, Peter Seifarth, is stunned. Seifarth graduated in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in physical theatre and will be traveling to Nepal, India, to conduct research on theater during the 2017-18 academic year.
“I was shocked when I received the Fulbright, convinced I wasn’t going to get it, already planning my life as if I didn’t. I didn’t believe it when I got it, to be honest-maybe they sent it to the wrong person,” says Seifarth. “I am just completely honored and humbled that I was selected by the government to be funded for an arts project. I want to show that program due justice and prove that funding for the arts is important.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program Study/Research Grant from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board provides research, study and teaching opportunities all over the world to recent graduates and graduate students. Students who self-identify or who are identified as having academic merit and leadership potential are chosen to contribute ideas and solutions to shared international concerns.
Seifarth sees physical theater as storytelling using the body instead of language, sometimes even breaking language barriers. He was attracted to CCU for having the only physical theatre program in the country, but his ideology began much earlier. Physical theater is the language between him and his brother Sam, who was born with Down Syndrome.
“Theater has allowed me to build bonds with people that I may not have been able to otherwise. It allowed Sam and me to communicate; it allowed us to be brothers,” writes Seifarth in his personal statement. “Theater is an art form that cultivates mutual understanding. It has fostered a series of unconventional brotherhoods in my life, and the Fulbright program will allow me to build upon these kinships and continue my research on international theater techniques.”
The focus of Seifarth’s research will be contemporary Nepalese form in physical theater. He finds the practice extremely important in countries like Nepal.
“Nepal is different because they have a wide variety of languages, so their theater innately has to communicate physically. I am going over to study their specific physical theater techniques and how they are used to transcend language,” explains Seifarth. “Nepal is also interesting in its theater because it used to be a very aristocratic thing, birthing physical theater as theatre for the people, by not using props and just using body. It seems as if it played a role in shaping modern-day Nepal.”
This idea of researching in Nepal was introduced to Seifarth during his required study abroad in Italy. He studied at Accademia Dell’Arte in Arezzo, where he met a Nepalese student, Roshan Mehta, who introduced him to the Nepalese style of physical theater.
Seifarth also attributes his success to the knowledge and support provided by the theatre department and the Fulbright committee at CCU.
Ben Sota, assistant professor of physical theatre and Seifarth’s most influential professor, feels Seifarth will be giving back as much as he received.
“Peter is an example of a true success that really fits this time period and this department,” says Sota. “Once you’re a Fulbright recipient, you are always a Fulbright recipient, but this is only a stepping stone. A lot of students make their way back and share what they learn. I hope Peter is one.”
By Chelsea Thomas
Photo by David Pearlman
Recent graduates Victoria Green and Zachary Thomas were the 2017 winners of the Paul Rice Broadside Series Contest, CCU’s undergraduate poetry competition named in honor and in memory of Rice, CCU professor of English from 1987 to 2004. Each semester, an outside judge names the winning poet whose work will be published on 100 limited-edition broadsides.
In the fall, Green became the series’ 21st winner for her form-bending piece “Sonnet for a Sick Mother,” and Thomas followed her this spring with his Appalachian elegy “Family Plot.”
Outside of their common award, these poets also share common themes in their works of ambiguity and lineage as well as subject matter. Both reflect on their rural Southern family history.
In her unpunctuated, unrhymed sonnet, Green compresses her mother’s complicated image into 14 lines, rendering her as a sick woman “out-believing God.”
“The overlapping and inlaid syntax of [Green’s sonnet] work beautifully together to create a complex portrait of ambivalence and love,” writes poet and judge Alan Michael Parker. “There’s friction and fractiousness here, loss and lament, and the form complements the content spectacularly.”
Thomas meditates longer on the scenic hills of western Virginia where his grandparents are buried and the sense of detachment he feels toward his family history. Poet and judge Erica Dawson praised Thomas’ piece for its rich sense of place.
“This poet brings people and places to life in such a palpable and visceral way, you can’t help but feel the sense of loss. There’s such humanity here that it doesn’t matter if it’s your history. You’re humbled all the same.”
Hastings Hensel, CCU lecturer of English, led the workshop in which both poems were written.
“What makes them great writers of poetry,” explains Hensel, “is, in part, that they are great readers. They absorb poetic technique, yet they write originally.”
In the fall, Green will continue working on her craft in the Master of Arts in Writing program here at CCU, and Thomas will begin his Master of Arts in English and Rhetoric at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. Read their winning pieces below.
Sonnet for a Sick Mother
my mother wild with the Cherokee jaw
her knock-off purse her Ziploc baggie full
of Friday night she’s sitting breathless bald
she calls me home she calls me ugly calls
me sweetie she paints her nails in black she coughs
up blood she writes her name on bathroom doors
goes barefoot forgets dates wears a cross
my mother tall and beautiful daughter
to dead women rocking and lonely and blue
around the eyes it’s like I’m writing her
to death she’s tired of dying tired of pews
of paper gowns of needles tired of work
my mother wild and out-believing God
her crooked gray hands are stirring the stars
One evening I stood at the family plot
where, tucked away in the soft pines
of a hilltop clearing, a dozen Grahams
lie like stubborn ghosts anchored in the soil
by moss paper weights. I’ve seen the portraits:
slender men blackened by the mines.
Chain-smoking women hobbling atop blue legs.
Steady glares and tobacco-filled lips
making clear the intention of just coming home
to bustling stoves and oil lamps stuffed with fat.
They watched the same dappled and shrinking sun
creep down to tuck Tazewell’s hills in each night.
Their feet stopped splashing in the hollow’s
clear stream below as they found the life
promised by Christ drying on the rocks.
I asked myself since I could not ask them:
Did we cross the ocean to die, limbs
rotten with gangrene, by strokes in homes
dark as coal? Was the Lord intent
on dispatching boys to those black lung shafts
and filling their empty bellies with mortars?
In escaping, there is little found
wading in the urban currents.
Like those ghosts, I am tethered to the slope.
With their documented button noses,
blue eyes and pale skin, I am no less
lonely in cities, unable to watch
days end without moving, knowing
they never said a word of the world
that refused to ripen despite their hunger.
By Maggie Nichols
Photos by Abby Sink
CCU Graphic Design Majors Win Big
By combining artistic creativity with a little pop culture, Coastal Carolina University graphic design students made statements this year that rang loud and clear.
Two events brought recognition to 15 CCU graphic design students, some in a team competition and others through industry awards.
A team of five students bested East Carolina University in the Carolina Design Clash, held in January 2017 at ECU in Greenville, N.C.
The winning team included seniors Kristin Pisano and William Taylor and juniors Alexa Stress, Andrew Smith and Kaitlyn Cegielski. Scott Mann, CCU associate professor of visual arts and graphic design coordinator, served as faculty adviser.
Patterned after Lifetime Network’s “Project Runway,” the clash was a 24-hour design competition with each team developing a name, identity, menu and to-go package for a fictitious microbrewery in Asheville, N.C. Each team created, photographed and developed a presentation sent to an outside judge.
“Design Clash was fun, exciting, tiring and stressful all at the same time,” says Pisano. “It’s a unique opportunity to work in a team to solve a design problem in a set amount of time. I learned to make quick, important decisions more easily during this competition.”
Other CCU students earned public recognition by submitting work to the American Advertising Awards (AAA) gala, held in February in Myrtle Beach.
Pisano collected the Best of Show/Judges Choice award for her orange juice packaging project, completed under Ellen Lytle, CCU visiting assistant professor of visual arts.
Senior Theresa Calabrese won four awards for her work in classes and University publications: a gold for art direction of TEMPO, CCU’s student features magazine, under Mann; silver for art direction of Archarios, CCU’s student literary and art publication, under Paul Olsen, CCU professor of visual arts; bronze for the Wounded Warrior Campaign under Jacob Cotton, former CCU visual arts faculty member; and bronze for her design of the article “Giving in to Gluten” in TEMPO.
“For the Wounded Warrior Campaign, I built my concept and felt confident about the choices I was making,” says Calabrese. “More than a campaign project, it was also a project for me about being an art director.”
CCU 2016 graduates Ashley Nielsen, Dorothy Thompson and Joshua Wysong won gold for their Collateral Materials publication and book design, part of the Powering the New South project for the Athenaeum Press, under Mann.
Seniors Itzi Duarte and Jasmine Kennedy won silver awards for packaging projects for tequila and olive oil, respectively, and Alicia Shirah, a junior, won bronze for her milk packaging project.
Junior Thomas Mesiarik won silver for a skateboard illustration, and Stress won silver for a bicycle logo design.
Entries winning gold awards will be submitted to the AAA national competition, which takes place in June in New Orleans. With statements made and hardware in hand, CCU graphic design students are making their mark in the industry.
By Sara Sobota