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Alumni overcome obstacles to create art

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Kyle Clark's "Carbon Study No. 3," left, and Lauren Bradshaw's "Void Fill" are two of the 16 pieces in the exhibit titled "Alumni Voices from the Quarantine Exhibition." The exhibit began July 1 and is the second of three planned online exhibitions for the public.

University of North Georgia (UNG) alumna Lauren Bradshaw discovered pursuing a master's degree in ceramics during the COVID-19 pandemic came with some unique challenges.

"I'm a sculptor, but it's hard to do that without a studio space with a kiln," said Bradshaw, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art from UNG. "So I've been building abstract structures and putting them in the yard to let them get rained on and melt. Then I document them with photography."

The only element missing for Bradshaw was a venue to display her work since many art galleries have been closed because of the pandemic. Then Victoria Cooke, UNG art galleries director, called with an offer: UNG galleries would host an online exhibition featuring the school's alumni. Bradshaw jumped at the chance.

"I thought it would be a great opportunity to do something now when it's impossible to show in person," said Bradshaw, who lives in Newry, South Carolina. "I thought it was exciting to have an opportunity to show work on a digital platform, and I was grateful for it."

Bradshaw is one of 16 alumni with artwork in the exhibit titled "Alumni Voices from the Quarantine Exhibition." The exhibit began July 1 and is the second of three planned online exhibitions for the public. The first exhibition featuring current UNG students ran from May 26 to June 30.

"These exhibitions are devoted to artists who, as we all have, suddenly found themselves cut off from their work spaces only to discover different ways to approach crafting a work of art," said Dr. Pamela Sachant, chair of the Department of Visual Arts (DoVA) at UNG.

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Isaac Bramblett's "Saratoga - Corona Indian" and Isabella Martino's "In the Daylight" are two of the 16 pieces in the exhibit titled "Alumni Voices from the Quarantine Exhibition." The exhibit began July 1 and is the second of three planned online exhibitions for the public.

Featured artists range from painters to graphic designers as well as graduate students like Bradshaw. All are artists who graduated from UNG, Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University.

"Like our current students, some used art to reflect their mood, others reflected on life outside of the quarantine," Cooke said. "Each one represents the wide range of reactions of the UNG visual arts alumni to this remarkable time."

Alumna Morgan Auten took this opportunity to create an abstract piece, which is out of the box for the art teacher with Habersham County Schools.

"Being in quarantine, the world flipped upside down, so I thought 'Why not do what I want and be brave," said Auten, who earned a Bachelor of Science in art education in 2010.  "I want people to get a sense of boldness and bravery, and I wanted to bring a sense of peace and serenity."

UNG alumnus Kyle Clark applauded the visual arts department's ability to respond to the situation and showcase pieces from students and alumni.

"I was really proud of the department and their ability to adapt to the current world circumstance and continue with their objective to display artwork," said the 2013 graduate who works in the conservation lab at the University of Michigan's library.

Featured alumni include: Kate Ash, Morgan Auten, Madison Beaulieu, Lauren Bradshaw, Isaac Bramblett, Renee Marie Brooks, Christy Cason, Kyle Clark, Amy Henke, Rebecca Knowles, Jessica Loklar, Isabella Martino, Jill Raden, Vanessa Studebaker, Mary Thompson, and Gretchen Vanderbunt.

To see the pieces, visit the UNG galleries online art exhibitions webpage.

The Bob Owens Art Gallery on the Dahlonega Campus, Roy C. Moore Art Gallery on the Gainesville Campus and the Oconee Art Gallery on the Oconee Campus will all reopen to coincide with the beginning of the fall semester in August. All UNG art gallery exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public.

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