Art student finds her stroke – without a paintbrush

Visual Arts major Bryona D. Whitlock stands in the midst of "Beauty in the Struggle," one of the pieces in her senior art exhibit, "Woven."

Visual Arts major Bryona D. Whitlock stands in the midst of “Beauty in the Struggle,” one of the pieces in her senior art exhibit, “Woven.”

 If you venture through the Leedell Moorehead-Graham Art Gallery at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, you will be captivated by a senior exhibit that scales a quarter of the room with a plethora of yarn that forms peculiar shapes and tells interesting stories. Entitled Woven, the exhibit is the collective work of Bryona D. Whitlock, a graduating senior from St. Louis, Missouri set to receive her Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts this Saturday.

Wanting to venture beyond her hometown, she was advised to speak with former Art Department Chairperson and well-known artist Henri Linton, Sr.  After that meeting, it didn’t take long for her to make the decision to attend UAPB.

“I like the pace of the city and the one-on-one teaching I’ve had at UAPB,” Whitlock said. “I can always sit down and talk to my professors, and bounce ideas off of them. They let me use my imagination the way I wanted to.”

Her interest in art began in elementary school. Although she was in sports, she liked being by herself, watching cartoons and drawing.

“Art was the way for me to escape, show my ideas and show people that I exist, I have a vision, and that I have dreams.” she said. “When I was little, I always had big dreams but didn’t know how to achieve them. Now that I’ve been through college, I know how to execute in the way I want to.”

With a style described as 3D art, the pieces range from the large-scale piece called “Beauty in the Struggle,” that speaks of hope in the midst of trials to “Evilene,” a nod to the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. She grew into this style because it allows her to move beyond the extension of a pencil, brush or computer mouse – she can use her hands and go with it. The exhibit “Woven” is inspired by the evolution she made as an artist in elementary school where took a basket weaving class. She was so engulfed in doing that she found herself making during lunch at school and when at home.

“I chose to weave for my senior project because it’s often something people take for granted. Everyone [usually] thinks a basket has to sit on a table or hold fruit but don’t realize that it can be whatever shape you can imagine and hold anything, everything, or nothing at all.”

Upon graduation, Bryona aspires to be a full-time artist and plans in the near future to obtain a Master’s degree in Psychology so she can become an art therapist and work with adults and autistic children. After having found her way through the different types of art, she has finally come into her own.

“I’m a lot more outspoken now and comfortable with who I am as an artist.”

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