Great Thanks Project: BFA student describes impact of donors

| November 4, 2014

I Heart Webster Week is all about showing our love for Webster University and what your own unique Webster experience means to you. This week of celebration and philanthropy began Monday, Nov. 3 with the kickoff of Project Gorlok, and will run through Friday, Nov. 7. Showcase events at the Webster Groves campus are planned to share our Webster pride and familiarize students with the idea of giving back to the University. All week, I Heart Webster Week events will be celebrated. Click here to view all of the week’s celebration events, culminating in the Big Ed Bash on Friday, Nov. 7.

Great Thanks Project: ‘Thank You’ to Donors

The heart of this week is the Great Thanks Project. Increasingly a project spirited by student initiative and philanthropic excitement, Webster students, faculty, and staff each have the opportunity to share their favorite parts of their own Webster story in the form of a hand-written message to those who help make it all possible – our donors.

Student Ambassadors and Delta Phi Epsilon will manage note writing stations at Marletto’s, the University Center and the Sverdrup lobby, which will include blank note cards and names of donors which each participant will draw to select the recipient of his or her note. If someone has a specific donor to whom he or she would like to write, or would prefer to write to a donor who gives to a specific part of the University, he or she will have an opportunity to do so.

For questions regarding I Heart Webster Week and the Great Thanks Project, contact Billy Ratz at 314-246-7007, or Francesca Curcuru at 314-246-5948.

Featured Artist: Riley Williams
Blank note cards featuring the artwork of BFA student Riley Williams will be used for the Great Thanks Project.

Steincross Annual Art Scholar Riley Williams is a non-traditional student who is married and has a 10-year-old son. The scholarship has helped him develop his skills under the guidance of Webster Art professors.

Each year, the Great Thanks Project features the artwork of one of Webster’s many dedicated and talented student artists. This year’s featured artist is BFA painting student, and inaugural Kevin Steincross Annual Art Scholar, Riley Williams.

Motivated by the haunting memories he carries from his past, for Williams, “Painting for me is like flipping on a light switch, the darkness is illuminated.” Explaining how he wants his work to impact audiences, he says, “I’d like to show that some of us go through–and even do–horrific things, but still something beautiful can come of it.”

Currently working on achieving his bachelor of fine arts with an emphasis in painting, self-trained artist, Williams is excited to receive formal training at Webster University towards his dream of becoming a professional artist and art educator.

As the inaugural Kevin Steincross Annual Art Scholar, he explains that this scholarship support is an honor that carries with it the opportunity to ”continue my education at Webster University with a portion of the financial burden having been lifted. I am honored to have been chosen for this funding!”

Williams chose Webster University primarily for its tremendous reputation in the arts and credits his exceptional educational experience at Webster to the personal attention and individual instruction that he receives from each of his professors in the Department of Art History, Art and Design.

“Webster is helping my growth and development as an artist in ways that I had not imagined were possible,” he said.

Artist Q&A

What are your greatest inspirations when painting or creating a piece?

RW: At this moment my art is motivated by the haunting memories I carry from my past. Painting for me is like flipping on a light switch, the darkness is illuminated.

Who is your favorite artist?

RW: Gerhard Richter, Last year, I stood in front of the Richter paintings I was struck by wonder – why?, how? What the? When I found out that they were about the three months before the Berlin wall came down, I was in awe of what a painting can do.

What do you hope your work “does” to people audiences?

RW: I’d like to show that some of us go through, and even do horrific things but still something beautiful can come of it.

How did you come to the decision to attend college? Why did you choose Webster?

RW: I went from job to job with this feeling of being incomplete, untrue to myself. The only time I felt completely comfortable was when I was playing at being an artist. I had begun to put some little things I made in to community exhibitions. It was the day after a small group show that I had work in, when my the doctor I worked for (as an RVT) saw my work in the show and said, “You are a great technician Riley, but you’d be even better as an artist.” Two months later, I signed up for Webster.

I knew that this was the place to go for undergrad. I wanted the intimacy that could develop between student and teacher especially when both are working artists. Here in the art department the professors believe in me more than I sometimes believe in myself.

What particular class or faculty members at Webster have had a strong influence on your life?

RW: Carol Hodson and Ahzad Bogosian push, push, push…but if I go too far out on a limb, they’ll catch me. They don’t hold my hand, but they won’t let me fall either. It’s like ten steps forward and two steps back.

How have you changed as an artist through your experiences so far as an art student at Webster?

RW: I came into Webster with the mindset that art has to be pretty and full of technique. Now making art has become a personal adventure: it’s rocky, full of ups and downs, and scary. But the moments when I’m deeply involved in the process of painting give me an ability to conquer that fear, to not be afraid.  Not to say that art can’t be visually appealing, but it’s a hell of a lot more than decoration.

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