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Winthrop students’ art in the fore-front for Wells Fargo Championship

Next week, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and other PGA Tour greats will be in Charlotte for the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club.

Though their focus will be on the the course, they’ll have something else to feast their eyes on: original art from Winthrop University sculpture students.

The championship, which runs May 3 through 6, is one of the top events on the PGA Tour, attracting thousands of fans to the south Charlotte course each year.

It’s the first time in the championship’s 10-year history that public art will be on display, putting the students’ projects on the “biggest scale” and making it “far more visible” than projects in the past, said Shaun Cassidy, an associate professor of fine arts at Winthrop.

In the past, Cassidy and his students have completed multiple projects easily viewed in Rock Hill. These projects include the bike racks installed at City Hall, EarthFare and various downtown locations, as well as the tall art pieces near the Wells Fargo bank branch at East Main Street and Dave Lyle Boulevard.

The newest project began when Wells Fargo contacted the university’s Office of Development about creating eight pieces that would embody several themes, such as recycling, arts, education, community, Wells Fargo history, Quail Hollow history, tournament history and partnership.

Cassidy said people already were familiar with the students’ work, but some wondered if they could handle such a huge project in the time frame was another question.

He and Nate Brinkley, a philanthropic adviser in the development office who helped facilitate the discussions, were confident they could. And at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, eight white, powder-coated steel sculpture installations mounted on 10-foot poles were set to be shipped to Quail Hollow.

From the beginning, the project’s standards were different, Cassidy said.

“The strength of this project came early when students were forced to work within the parameters already established,” he explained.

Students had to not only select a theme, but to make sure their design would fit into the assigned dimensions.

The requirements challenged students to make some changes throughout the creative and constructive process, such as the art piece by sophomores Julie Hydrick and Chris Smalls.

Their pieces focuse on the history of the Quail Hollow Club. At the top is an outline of the club itself, followed by black cut-outs of the outlines of people and then the lush green course itself complete with tree roots that come off the frame and blue quails that peck at those roots.

At first, Hydrick, a general studio major with an emphasis in photography, said the design wouldn’t fit within the framework. But she and Smalls realized they could make the art more three-dimensional, bringing it out of the frame.

“The sizing was too big, so we turned some of it out,” she said. “Now, you can be more defined with it and have more depth.”

Several more intricate pieces of the art, such as the outlines of people and the painting, had to be done entirely by hand.

Carey Morton, a senior general studio major with a sculpture emphasis, also incorporated a 3D element with his sculpture.

Representing education, the sculpture shows an American flag with an inspirational quote across it, then a map of the United States with a lantern shining brightly over it. On the left is a book with the pages climbing out of it, a bird flying above them. The pages shift outward from the frame.

“I hope everyone enjoys it,” Morton said. “It’s an honor and a privilege and have opportunity to share something you created.”

Sarag Cason, a junior general studio with an emphasis in sculpture and painting major, wanted her piece to represent “broadening and transcending into a person’s ultimate potential.” The sculpture is meant to embody the arts.

At the bottom is a person’s head with eyes wide open. From the right side of the brain – the creative side, Cason said, – emerges several twisting, dancing shapes of people.

This opportunity is “phenomenal,” she said.

“We’re all aspiring artists, so our biggest hope is that it would be possible to do this after we graduate,” she said. “I never thought at this point millions of people would have seen my stuff.”

Other students who worked on the project include Anastasia Netrebine, Jacob Olsen, Sarah Scherini, John C. Williams and Kaitlyn Walters.

Cassidy said the opportunity to hit an artistic hole-in-one was “fantastic” for his students.

He’s already thinking ahead: “I’m nervous to think of what next spring will be.”

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