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Recent graduate’s artwork commissioned by Appalachian’s chancellor

By Meghan McCandless

Sloane Whaley ’16, who studied studio art in Appalachian State University’s Department of Art, recently had work commissioned by Appalachian’s Chancellor Sheri N. Everts. Whaley’s piece was third in a series dedicated to and inspired by her mother, who passed away in November.

View larger imageAppalachian’s Chancellor Sheri N. Everts commissioned a painting from studio art graduate Sloane Whaley ’16. Whaley’s piece, “Bittersweet Memories,” was third in a series dedicated to and inspired by her mother, who recently passed away. Photo by Joshua White

Whaley’s work was chosen for the Spring 2016 exhibition at the chancellor’s residence by the Arts Management Organization. The student-managed organization calls for submissions, juries each show and helps to arrange work at the chancellor’s home twice a year.

The chancellor saw Whaley’s work as part of the Spring 2016 exhibition and was impressed. “Her work was consistently strong and her pieces each showcased distinctive skills and styles,” remarked Andrea Elaver, event coordinator and director of the Appalachian House. “Her ability to talk openly about her process and her connection to the work was impressive as well.”

After Whaley was selected to show at the chancellor’s residence, Elaver approached her and asked if she would be interested in doing a commission for the chancellor.

“I jumped at the chance, and with full creative control I dove right in,” said Whaley. “In the piece, the bees are a metaphor for the overwhelming thoughts surrounding [my mother’s] battle, and the honey dripping from the broken comb symbolized a gooey mass of memories and fears.” “Bittersweet Memories” is the title of the piece.

A legacy student, Whaley followed in the path of her parents and godparents when she chose Appalachian. After a brief stint considering the practical pre-med route, she elected to pursue her passion.

“I’ve always wanted some type of creative job, like artist or tattoo artist,” she said. “I’ve been doing art since I was four years old, and decided to go with my heart.”

While on campus, Whaley grew as an artist and narrowed her focus to painting. She spent hours in the studio, often pulling all-nighters with her music blasting. She credits the department for her creative development and with helping her plan for life after graduation.

“The art department offered classes that prepared me for talking to galleries and curators the proper way, and also developing a plan on how to survive as a full-time artist and not a starving one,” she said. “Now, I am currently working at a paint and sip in Charlotte called Studio Cellar. It’s nice being a fresh college grad with a job in my field.”

Whaley also credits the department for truly caring about her on a personal level. She learned last fall that her mother, who was fighting Stage 4 breast cancer, didn’t have much time. Knowing Whaley’s mother wished to see her graduate, Department of Art Chair Clif Meador, along with Appalachian administrators, brought the graduation ceremony to her hospital room in Charlotte in November. The commission request from the chancellor brought everything full circle.

“The commission isn’t just a cool line for my resume, it’s also me giving part of myself back to the university,” said Whaley. “The ceremony is one of my favorite memories of my time at Appalachian.”

About the Department of Art

One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Art at Appalachian State University prepares students to explore art, identity, expression and creative problem-solving while challenging them to go beyond their previous limits by discovering new connections to culture. The department offers degrees in art and visual culture, art education, graphic design, studio art, commercial photography and graphic arts and imaging technology, with minors in art history, studio art, commercial photography and graphic arts and imaging technology.

About Appalachian

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.