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 http://www.janelombardgallery.com/carmen-neely/

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!



Alumna lands role on new Amazon Studios pilot

Earlier this year, Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut ‘15 flew to Los Angeles on her birthday. She didn’t know it then, but she was about to receive the best birthday present she could ask for: A lead role in the Amazon Studios young adult series pilot, “Panic.”

So far, Chestnut said, it’s her favorite role. It’s also her very first as a series regular, despite an already impressive resume with guest spots on the hit Showtime thriller “Homeland” and political drama “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access) – roles she landed soon after graduating from UNC Greensboro with a bachelor of fine arts in acting.

Chestnut also appeared in an episode of the Fox crime drama “Gotham,” alongside fellow UNCG alum Chris Chalk ‘01. And the two just wrapped filming the new movie, “Farewell.” She remembered Chalk’s name from her classes and reached out to him on Facebook. The two kindled a friendship, and his support has helped Chestnut navigate the industry as a “newbie.”

Given the Charlotte-native’s talent and moxie, it’s no surprise that just a few years out of school she’s racking up credits on major TV series. Chestnut actually didn’t make the cut when she first auditioned for the BFA program, but she was determined to do everything in her power to make it the following year.

“I’m a very hungry person – I don’t give up easily,” said Chestnut, who lives in New York City. “If you want something, you have to fight for it.”

She met with faculty, got an idea of what she needed to work on, attended workshops to hone her skills and nailed her audition the following year.

Chestnut said those faculty taught her techniques she still carries with her – from vocal warm-ups and Shakespearean diction to movement techniques and mindfulness.

“It’s nice knowing the work I did in school is still being applied in the real world.”

If “Panic” gets the green light from Amazon Studios, Chestnut said, it could be the “next big thing.” The plot line is reminiscent of the wildly popular “Hunger Games” books and films and is based on Lauren Oliver’s best-selling young adult novel of the same name.

Chestnut plans to keep her hands in film and theatre, and one day add writing to her repertoire. And while she has her sights set on an Emmy, she knows how to stay grounded.

“My mother taught me that I’m no better than anyone else, and no one’s better than me,” Chestnut said. “I always take every job, every opportunity as a blessing.”


Story by Elizabeth L. Harrison
Photography provided by Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut

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!

Shakespeare Festival names UNCG alumni as managing director!

Bradley Brown sml.jpg

Addition comes as nonprofit recognizes 30 years of operations

The Nashville Shakespeare Festival Board of Directors has named Bradley Brown as managing director.

According to a release, Brown (pictured) will work in tandem with NSF Executive Artistic Director Denice Hicks and will oversee the administrative and operational management of the festival and its marketing, development and accounting departments. The position is new to the nonprofit.

His hiring comes as the NSF, founded in 1988, celebrates its 30th anniversary season.

Over the last 10 years, Brown has led theater programs at Hillsboro IB World School and Page Middle School. He was awarded PTSO Educator of the Year at Hillsboro for the 2012-13 school year, as well as HHS Teacher of the Year in 2013-14. In 2013, he was awarded the English Speaking Union Shakespeare Educator Fellowship Award in 2011, affording him the opportunity to train at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Brown’s professional theater experience includes performances for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival in The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged, “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “A Comedy of Errors.” He has also been a teaching artist, musician and assistant stage manager for NSF, and has worked as an actor for Blackbird Theatre and Springhouse Theater in Tennessee, Seaside Repertory Theatre in Florida and Triad Stage and the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, in North Carolina.

Brown graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a B.S. degree in marketing. At TTU, he won several accolades, including competitive scholarships from the Nashville Advertising Federation. Brown also has an MFA degree in acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“We are pleased to have Bradley Brown joining the leadership of NSF as managing director,” Dr. Marcia McDonald, NSF board chair, said in the release. “Together with Denice Hicks and Producer Robert Marigza-Yeo, we have a strong leadership team to expand our capacity to offer exciting and innovative theater and educational programming.”

The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Winter Shakespeare performance will be “Julius Caesar,” directed by Santiago Sosa and featuring Broadway’s Chuck Wagner in the title role. The show will run Jan. 10 to Feb 2, 2019, in Nashville and Murfreesboro.

Link: https://www.nashvillepost.com/business/people/article/21029824/shakespeare-festival-names-managing-director