Christal Brown teaching

Michelle Mason ’18

“KATS: The Meerkat Musical” and “Indiana Bones and the Kingdom of the Camarasaur” are examples of presentations at Greensboro’s Science Center, where actors educate and entertain a vital audience: children. Michelle Mason ’18 contributes to our community by using her acting skills to connect with kids.

UNCG’s School of Theatre has long valued young audiences. The North Carolina Theatre for Young People (NCTYP) productions are a signature piece of the MFA Theatre for Youth program and represent the importance UNCG places on the arts as a pivotal community connection. For decades, families have made the NCTYP performances a part of growing up in Greensboro.

How do college actors accumulate their tools for the craft of acting? A variety of teaching methods and performance opportunities, integrated with guidance and supervision by world-class faculty provided Mason with chances to hone her skills. A scholarship from the International Honors College Travel Fund helped her broaden her vision of the world through study abroad, piquing her imagination and artistic growth, exposing her to global perspectives and performance approaches. Associate Professor Michael Flannery describes Mason’s experience at UNCG:

“Michelle Mason participated in every part of UNCG Theatre during her four years here. She was in main stage shows, studio shows, theatre for young audience tours, directing class scenes and students’ workshops. Her broad experience here is what we hope for every one of our students.”

Mason took advantage of opportunities to apply her actor training at the Greensboro Science Center and was also recently hired by “Reserving Royalty,” a birthday event company in which characters interact with children.

UNCG provides a myriad of opportunities for cultural enrichment as an active partner contributing to the vibrancy of the larger community. With the state’s largest College of Visual and Performing Arts and 75 percent of alumni remaining in-state, UNCG arts graduates significantly impact the quality of life in North Carolina communities. Students are transformed by their college experience and become active contributors in our schools, studios, museums, cultural centers and recreational facilities.

According to the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, youth involved with theatre are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to score well on standardized tests. Youth with disabilities can improve their academic performance and communication skills through theatre. Interest in the arts can begin at home, at school or at a science center. A make-believe interaction with a birthday event character may ignite the spark of imagination that results in lifelong creativity.

With the support of caring faculty and international insight, Mason brings fairy dust to encourage our youngest citizens to engage and empathize – inspiration for tomorrow’s vibrant communities.

Story by Zoe Dillard, Donor Relations

2016 Art School Alumni Carmen Neely Exhibition at Jane Lombard Gallery, New York


Carmen Neely’s work—a combination of painting and found objects—is imbued with deep intention and awareness of her identity as a young black woman making art in the twenty-first century. “The mark”, revered and mythologized as the purest form of artistic intention in the art historical canon, becomes an act of subtle subversion in Neely’s paintings. Her own sexuality and female body appropriate the traditionally masculine gesture, and turn painting into an act of femininity. With each brushstroke, she pushes back against the status quo, inserting herself into a larger dialogue about signification in contemporary abstract painting.

Extract from Jane Lombard Gallery

Art Alumni Kyle Webster – awarded the Fellow Award 2017

Kyle T. Webster’s name is synonymous with digital painting.  This bold statement was true even before he joined the Adobe team in 2017 and released his custom brushes to every licensed user of Adobe Creative Cloud.  The drop down menu of brushes in adobe applications now include his simulated media based brushes ( oh and his name ).  These are the brushes that so many have used, purchased, and cherished for over 10 years; one million users, 1600 custom brushes.

How did he ever find the time to make so many? Why does anyone need 1600 brushes?  The answer to both is easy….urgent necessity and endless curiosity.  Drawing and painting is a fundamental need of humanity, for many it is the core of the creative process, a springboard for the ideation process and also the end of a tireless creative journey.  For Kyle it is like breathing. Kyle has always been looking, observing, and searching for new ways to make and express his observations.  As a student, he was always in the studio, not just the digital studio but in the life drawing, the painting studios, really every studio.  He was searching for connections and opportunities to make and see more.  He makes brushes because he needs them to make new marks and they thrill his creative adrenaline and spark new possibilities…  endlessly.

He shared them with the world generously and humbly, often having free give aways along with bargain bundles for sale and downloading.  One million users later, he had Adobe’s attention and had already found his way into the hearts and creative practices of many.

Kyle is now developing with Adobe a touch surface digital painting project named Gemini which integrates vector and pixel brushes and revolutionary live brushes that show real time blending and media interaction.  Gemini was announced at the Adobe Max conference last month with Kyle T. Webster as the keynote performing a live demo of digital painting. It is to be released in 2019 and to use Kyle’ s words…its bananas!

His innovations have generated an ecosystem of digital brushes which inspire, inform, and sustain creatives from many disciplines.  He has been invited to present to Pixar, IDEO, and the national AIGA where he was given the very prestigious Fellow award in 2017 which recognizes designers who have made a significant contribution to raising the standards of excellence in practice and conduct.

Conduct…..  His recent illustrated children’s book, Please say Please, lays a beautiful foundation for inspiring considered conduct; something we are is desperate need of today.  Kyle has consistently done this through his generosity and community engagement.  Earlier today several students said, “ I love Kyle….he came to my high school and talked with us about careers in art and digital painting.”  Kyle has always given to the people around him, his time, his energy, and his insights which are significant.  He is a creative citizen par excellence!  He is an Adobe Design Evangelist, an Illustrator Wizard, and a Design Gangsta!

Kyle Webster is everywhere. We see his work in grocery store on the beer aisle with the standout design work for Foothills IPA.  His work can frequently be found in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Entertainment Weekly, Scholastic, Nike, IDEO, and many other distinguished editorial, advertising, publishing and institutional clients. He is on our phones with two top 50 mobile games, White Lines and Plates, which offer smart, addictive play, for a mere 99 cents each!

Moments like this, welcoming back an alumnus of distinction to share their work and accomplishments with our students today, is the cherry on top of all the hard work of teaching.  I will always cherish the memory of arriving for class and seeing Kyle with his charismatic smile and sleep deprived eyes.  The screening of his first animations which are now both classics, Sleepy Head and Auto Portrait, will stay with me and many others forever for their playful and intelligent portrayal of the human condition.

The first line in Kyle’s bio is < Kyle T. Webster was lucky enough to grow up overseas in Singapore, Cyprus, Pakistan, and Taiwan, where there was always something interesting to draw.>  I would like to parallel this with UNCG is lucky to have Kyle as an alumnus and member of our creative community.  His inventiveness and conduct is a credit to this institution and a challenge to all to believe in power of creative curiosity, generosity, and the benefits of best conduct.  I know that his stellar career will continue to provide him with limitless interesting things to draw and I look forward seeing it all!

Congratulations Kyle T. Webster!

New York City Alumni Lunch

Alumni from all arts disciplines and class years attended a CVPA lunch for reminiscing and networking with large servings of laughter and great Italian food.   The gathering was held at Trattoria Dell ‘Arte on October.  It is one of two annual arts alumni reunions in NYC-  the next one will be following the Theatre Industry Showcase on April 15, 2019 (location TBD).   Watch Facebook and email for more details!

2018 CVPA Distinguished Alumna in Dance Announced

The College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Dance are proud to announce their selection for the 2018 Distinguished Alumna in Dance: Tiffany Rhynard.

Tiffany Rhynard is an artist, dancer, and filmmaker compelled to make work that examines the complexity of human behavior and addresses current social issues. Having created numerous works for stage and screen, Rhynard’s choreography, dance films, and documentaries have been presented nationwide and internationally. Her dance films have screened at festivals including Dancing for the Camera at the American Dance Festival and ScreenDance Miami 2015 where she won First Prize for her short “Invisible Queens.”

Rhynard’s award-winning documentary, “Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America,” was honored with the Social Justice Film Award from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Freedom Award from Outfest Film Festival. “Forbidden” is currently airing on LogoTV and is sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Her recent dance documentary short, “Black Stains,” created in collaboration with Trent D. Williams, Jr. about black male identity in the United States, is currently screening at film festivals. Now in the pre-production phrase, “A Right to Kill,” is a feature-length documentary questioning the ethics of capital punishment.

A cross-disciplinary artist, Rhynard has worked with esteemed collaborators including choreographer Christal Brown, internationally renowned composer Lei Liang, real-time digital media artist Marlon Barrios Solano, and mezzo-soprano Sahoko Sato Timpone. As a performer, Rhynard has danced for choreographers including Gerri Houlihan, Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, and Chavasse Dance and Performance Group. She has taught at colleges and universities throughout the country and currently teaches dance and technology in the FSU School of Dance.

In addition to other events that will take place during the week of November 5, Tiffany will be screening her film, Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America. The screening will take place on November 5 in room 225 of the Curry Building on the UNCG campus.

Congratulations to Tiffany and all of the 2018 CVPA Distinguished Alumni!