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A weekend of fine art: Art Market features work of Shepherd University students

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Nov 27, 2020

Bridget Brown, of Summit Point, checks out the animal "Pawtraits" created by Shepherd University sophomore Abby Bowman in Evolve on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The rising number of coronavirus cases in the Eastern Panhandle has been reflected among Shepherd University’s students and staff, forcing the university to make serious changes over the last month, including closing the Wellness Center and only allowing its facilities to be used for student classes.

For several years, art professor Sonya Evanisko has hosted an annual Art Market in the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater near the holiday season. But with the closure of Shepherd University’s facilities to the public, she was forced to rethink her plans.

After giving it some thought, Evanisko decided to return the event back to its roots, as a market solely for the 11 students in her Art Market Class to practice marketing and selling their artwork in. Over the last few years, the market participation had grown to include any of her current or former Art Market students, along with Shepherd faculty and staff members. This year’s social distancing-friendly Art Market was held in Evolve this past weekend, expanded past its traditional one-day timeframe to be held from Friday through Sunday.

According to Art Market Class student and senior photography/computer imagery major Alyssa Lewis, this year’s market seemed to have attracted more attention than in the past, due to its change in location.

“It’s actually been better at this location — we’ve seen professors, family members and people from the neighborhood come here to support us! I think it’s because we’re in town, and a lot of other events are happening at the same time, so there are more people out,” Lewis said.

A father and daughter browse through some photography, created by Shepherd University senior Alyssa Lewis in Evolve on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

Based upon her positive experience of learning how to package, market and sell her nature photography for the market, Lewis said she could see herself continuing to sell her art part-time at other art markets after graduation. Her fellow classmate and senior photography major, Kenzie Cole, shared a similar plan for the future, following her positive experience selling at the market.

“I definitely think it has helped us get out into the professional world,” Cole said, mentioning of the Art Market Class. “If you want to get into a gallery, knowing how to sell yourself and your work is very important. Whether you choose to sell on this or the gallery side, we are definitely being given the skills that will carry through for both. At some point, we’re going to have to sell what our portfolio holds.”

While most of the students’ artwork was a direct reflection of their major, senior graphic design major Grant Grzadzielewski chose to take a different route. His art display featured nautical-themed illustrations, suspended in the air from the middle of Evolve’s ceiling.

“I had a couple of different themes I went through to decide on it,” Grzadzielewski said. “It was something outside of my comfort zone that I wanted to do.

“Before this, the only reason I would make art would be for a grade or for fun. For this, I was making the art to be sold,” Grzadzielewski said. “It kind of provided a different perspective on making art than I had before.”