Christal Brown teaching
picture of artist Ashlynn Browning

School of Art Shines in Raleigh Exhibition

You might say Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting has been on the backburner for a little while.
It was 2017.  Ashlynn Browning (’02 MFA Studio Art) was feeling what she describes as “burnt out”  after the recent election and plagued by negativity and devisiveness:
“Everything seemed to be precarious and overwhelming.  I wanted to feel some semblance of control over my environment again and to create something that was beautiful and positive.”
At about the same time, the Whitney Biennial was going on, and she noticed how prominently painting was being featured.   Confident that North Carolina is home to an abundance of outstanding painters, she put together a proposal for the North Carolina Museum of Art.
It was good timing.  NCMA curators had already been exploring such a show.  Browning was offered the opportunity to guest curate an exhibition, and Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary Painting was born.
Front Burner operates on several levels for me. The idea was chiefly that painting, which periodically takes the back burner to trendier mediums, was being recognized in a significant way and was worthy of celebration; specifically, the celebration of excellent painting in our state. I wanted the show to contain a wide array of work and styles, as well as different stages of artistic careers.”

The 25 artist selections in Front Burner include pieces by Browning and fellow alumna Carmen Neely (’16 MFA Studio Art) and UNCG Art Professor Barbara Campbell Thomas: “I am thrilled to be part of this upcoming show of NC painting. Ashlynn is absolutely capitalizing on the presence of strong contemporary painting in NC in her organization of this show, and I am deeply proud that UNCG painting is connected to that vision.”

Front Burner will be up through July 26th in the East Building at NCMA.  You can read more information on the exhibition here.
Carmen Neely. “In an Alternative Reality,” oil on canvas with faux flower crown, 81″ x 63,” 2018
Barbara Campbell Thomas. “Heart Opener,” acrylic and textile collage on canvas, 72″ x 60,” 2018

December Commencement Profile: Marya Fancey ’19

Marya Fancey ’19

DMA Organ Performance


Her degree from UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts is a Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance, but Marya Fancey has put her hands on just about every kind of keyboard instrument you can think of and in more than one country.


She started out on piano, but it was when she started organ lessons that she decided to make music her career.  With a Bachelor and a Masters in organ, she chose CVPA to complete the trifecta and earn her DMA with Organ Professor Dr. André Lash and to take advantage of other opportunities offered by the program:


“When I met with Dr. Lash he told me I would have options to study other historical keyboard instruments — harpsichord, fortepiano, clavichord — with Dr. Andrew Willis. I had been studying historical keyboard performance through the McGill Summer Organ Academy (in Montréal) for several years, so the opportunity to continue those studies was a big plus. Additionally, UNCG’s DMA degree is structured to balance performance with academics and requires a written dissertation and cognate in another area (essentially a doctoral minor). These requirements would help me develop as a performer and a scholar.”


Marya’s passion for music and love of learning led her to add another credential — the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.  While at UNCG she participated in a year-long grant writing program sponsored by The Graduate School and was awarded a US Student Scholar grant in Historical Performance.  She lived in Kraków, Poland for the 2017-2018 Academic year.


“My project was musicological research on a Polish manuscript of organ music from 1540 (called the Johannes of Lublin Tablature) and included a concert in Kraków based on the research. I collaborated with Flores Rosarum, a fantastic Krakow-based women’s vocal ensemble, for the concert. We performed three organ masses from the manuscript, which means that I played a series of short organ pieces and in between they sang sixteenth-century chants from the mass. Alternation between organ and choir was used a lot in the Catholic mass from the late Middle Ages up until 1903, but these particular Polish organ masses were last used in the seventeenth century; I think we did the first modern performance of them! I owe a big thank you to my Polish mentors, Dr. Elżbieta Witkowska-Zaremba and Dr. Marcin Szelest, for helping me with the project.”


Marya says she’d like to land at a college or university where she can have an organ studio and teach music theory and/or music history.  She plans to continue research and performance and she feels that CVPA has helped prepare her:

“My experience at UNCG has been very positive. Right from the start the faculty at the School of Music were very supportive and always available when I needed help outside of class. My dissertation committee in particular has helped me with additional projects beyond my program like grant writing and conference presentations. In addition to my degree, I completed the Post-Masters Certificate in Music Theory Pedagogy and am close to receiving the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Historical Keyboard Performance. These extra certificates will help me be more competitive in the job market because very few positions are for organ alone.  I’ve also gained confidence in my abilities — both performance and academic.  I’m excited for the future!”