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Alyssa Karpa

Wellington B. Gray Art Gallery

Current Exhibition

2016 MFA THESIS EXHIBITION

April 15 - May 20, 2016
Opening reception: Friday, April 15, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

The Wellington B. Gray Gallery is proud to present the work of three artists graduating from the Master of Fine Arts program in the School of Art and Design at East Carolina University. The exhibiting artists are Sarah Harvell, Alyssa Karpa and Amber D Watts. The exhibit runs from April 15 through May 20, 2016 with an opening reception to honor the artists on Friday, April 15 from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m.

The exhibition includes a wide range of materials and aesthetics with artists representing three studio areas in the School of Art and Design: Sarah Harvell is in Metal Design, Alyssa Karpa is in Textile Design and Amber D Watts is in Painting.

Sarah HarvellSarah Harvell was born in 1990 in the small town of Floyd County, Virginia, She was raised in a creative home and perpetually inspired by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Harvell majored in metal design at Radford University in Radford, Virginia graduating in 2013 receiving her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. During that same year she began her candidacy for Masters of Fine Arts at ECU in metal design.

In her artist statement Harvell states "I revere the strength, beauty, and practicality of a seedpod in all its life stages and strive to include its maternal essence in my work. These womb-like forms are beautiful as they grow, split, and open, the exterior organic and concupiscent, mysterious as it bends and twists to reveal its contents. I represent these forms in copper with shell forming, a technique that enables me to mimic the sensuous forms and curving lines of seedpods. My pieces show growth and experience through repetition of line, form, surface, and color."

Alyssa Karpa was born and raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a quirky suburb north of Philadelphia. The majority of her childhood was spent drawing and exploring outside with her sister. She was the first member of her family to travel away from home for college. Karpa attended Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania from 2009-2013, where she earned a bachelor's degree in studio art. She concentrated in drawing and fiber art; the two mediums complemented the themes portrayed within her work while allowing her to explore different materials and methods of making.

Karpa describes in her artist statement the influence of events in her life on her art: "In one moment, I became a victim of domestic violence. Unable to process the abuse, my life was halted. I was seventeen; my adolescent growth was already shrouded in tragedy. My high school experience has stained every part of my adult self, including the decisions I have made and the places I have found myself. My inability to grasp the abuse led me to art making. "

"This body of work depicts my process of therapy and rejuvenation found through creating art. Through building metaphors about the abuse, PTSD, and my anxiety, I discovered that stitching and crocheting served as coping and healing acts. Displayed here are several fiber art techniques-embroidery, crochet, rusting and decaying fiber, and creating sculpture with hog gut and wire-that illustrate my recovery from abuse as well as the methods that now help me cope with residual anxiety."

Amber D Watts

Amber D Watts was raised in the small conservative town of Hudson, North Carolina, located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her family is part of the working class, making a living through furniture, textile mill, and food service trades. She was the first from her immediate family to attend Community College, attend University, and go on to earn a Master's Degree.

In writing about her art, Watts states, "I am passionate about the topic of food because of my sociocultural identifiers. My life is lived through the lenses of an American, Southern, Caucasian female whose childhood spans the 1980's and 1990's (a key decade for the birth and rapid growth of High Fructose Corn Syrup, Genetically Modified Foods, and the Fast Food Industry). The lenses I wear also include being the oldest of three daughters, the mother of a boy, a feminist, a consumer, a producer, an artist, a student, and a teacher. "

"Why is Quaker Peaches and Cream Instant Oatmeal made with artificially flavored and colored apple bits? Why is 80 percent of the food we eat (in the United States) genetically modified? Are there really engineers who research the perfect combinations of salt, sugar and fat to create chemical addictions within us? Why has our food system changed more since WWII than it has in the 10,000 years before that? And why should we care about these questions in the first place?

It goes without saying, but we all eat. Food consumption is a necessary act which sustains both plants and animals. It is at once universal, personal, and cultural and is intricately linked to every facet of our lives. We are living in a time when most Americans know very little about something as fundamental as the food which sustains our being."

"Through the construction of mixed media assemblages, I critique contemporary food culture in the United States. My aim with the work is to utilize my sociocultural identifiers (as a southern white female, having been raised in the lower economic class, and as a parent) to sift through clues about how to live a meaningful life in our society of Just-Add-Water-Instant-Artificial Blueberry Biscuit Mix. The work is the result of this sifting. It is a poetic expression of my learning about and grasping capitalist methods of food production, advertising, and consumption, as relates to my own life and those around me. "


The Wellington B. Gray Gallery is located off of 5th and Jarvis Streets on the campus of East Carolina University in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center. Summer gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the exhibition. The gallery is closed for all University holidays. Jenkins Fine Arts Center is handicapped accessible. Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact the Department of Disability Support Services, at least two weeks prior to the event (252) 737-1016. Parking for the reception is available in the lot surrounding Jenkins Fine Arts Center.

For more information, please contact Tom Braswell, Interim Gallery Director, at (252) 328-6336.