Burns named Whetsell Fellow at Wofford | Congrats Colleton | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | November 25, 2016 5:00 am
Last Updated: November 27, 2016 at 10:27 am
Her exhibition, “Bodies of Light,” is on display at the Martha Cloud Chapman Gallery.
By CINDY CROSBY
“Poets such as Bryant, Whitman and Emerson, have influenced most of my pieces. I wanted to expand on the idea of an organic truth with a modern context. To do so, I used elements from the earth to create most of my work.” – Meagan Burns
Last spring, Meagan Burns, Colleton Prep Class of 2013, was honored as the 2016 Whetsell Fellow at Wofford College in Spartanburg. Now, Burns’ selection for the prestigious fellowship is culminating with her art exhibition, “Bodies of Light,” that is ongoing through Monday Jan. 30 in the Martha Cloud Chapman Gallery, Campus Life Building, on Wofford’s campus in Spartanburg.
A senior at Wofford, Burns was chosen for the Whetsell Fellowship based upon the strength of her project, along with her portfolio. Established in 2006, by Dr. William O. Whetsell in memory of his brother Dan Whetsell, the Whetsell Fellowship is designed to support and promote the visual arts at Wofford College. The summer fellowship allows a Wofford student the opportunity to pursue study in some aspect of the visual arts under the guidance of a mentor. The fellowship covers the cost of art supplies and instruction.
“Bodies of Light” is Burns’ perspective on social structures in relation to the natural world. In the exhibit, she incorporates the products of everyday human life with found materials from outdoors, such as tree limbs, moss and soot from fire. Burns describes her work as a “juxtaposition of disparate materials highlighting the relationship to the world around us — bringing together aesthetic qualities distinctive to both the natural and the synthetic.”
In her submission for consideration for the fellowship, Burns acknowledged “Bodies of Light” has been in the making since she was a child. “I grew up in an area characterized by a lot of land to explore, but not many neighbors or children to explore it with,” said Burns. “Nature enveloped me into its arms as I spent my adolescence indulging in activities like making mud pies in the dirt, jumping hay bales and playing in the small stream by swinging from loose branches.
“I even entertained the activity of picking up sticks as a chore from my dad,” she said. “My response was always akin to ‘Dad are you kidding? We live in the woods! They are supposed to be there!’ Therefore, my parents thought my picking up sticks for weeks in preparation for my show was quite ironic.”
According to Burns, her relationship with the environment continued, though differently, at Wofford. “I began to have a fascination with poetry from the Transcendentalist and Romantic Eras, and the idea of looking to nature for explanations of the human condition piqued my curiosity,” said Burns. “Through my readings, the realization that humanity contributes to the universe’s natural processes and progression reveals a likeness between humanity and the natural order. Therefore, I wanted to create something that displayed a praise of nature, but also showed the individual’s role in it.”
Burns, an English and art major at Wofford, is the daughter of William and Jennifer Burns. Her grandparents are Levern and Jo Ann Smoak. She has a younger sister, Olivia, who is a senior at Colleton Prep Academy.
Upon graduation, Burns plans to move to New York and pursue a career in exhibit design and grant writing, while working on her own art.
For more information on visiting Burns’ exhibition “Bodies of Light” contact Wofford at 864-597-4585 or visit the web at Wofford.edu/arts. Wofford College is located at 429 North Church Street, Spartanburg.