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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

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Behind Doors | Behind Eyes, and behind the artist

Photos courtesy of Mark Olencki – Walker Antonio at the reception for Behind Doors | Behind Eyes. There were around 60 attendees from the Wofford and Spartanburg community at the event.

On Thursday, Feb. 16, a reception was held for Behind Doors | Behind Eyes, the newest exhibit of Wofford student and art major Walker Antonio ‘23. This collection is one of the many that has held a temporary place in the Wofford’s on-campus gallery within the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts.

As a product of Wofford’s Whetsell Fellowship, a program which gives arts students the ability to pursue their artistic passion through mentorship, Behind Doors | Behind Eyes demonstrates the general achievements of Wofford’s art students and the program itself.

“Every student’s success or failure is something that they are largely generating themselves,” said Michael Webster, assistant professor of studio art and head of Wofford’s art department. “Walker is successful because he put in the work to really develop his craft, especially over the past year.”

Behind Doors | Behind Eyes is Antonio’s third solo collection, though he voiced that his previous collections contained similar imagery. However, Antonio believes his latest reception to be the most rewarding, praising the support he received from family members, fraternity brothers, past mentors, alumni and locals, all of whom attended.

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The exhibit consists of 11 six-by-five foot canvases, totalling around 200 hours of work by Antonio. The work itself features vibrant and expressive images inspired by Antonio’s own collection of dreams and nightmares.

Antonio mentioned that he was more interested in conveying the images of nightmares because of their “strong emotions, especially the morning after.” The artist also added that the majority of his collection’s vivid imagery is inspired by his notes left in dream journals.

“The aim of the paintings is to push and amplify the emotions of nightmares,” Antonio said.

That much is apparent to anyone who has taken the time to visit the collection, as the compelling nature of the work is also evident in its bright, yet often obscure images.

Coming into Wofford as a freshman, Antonio knew that he wanted to pursue studio art, though originally intended to pair his artistic studies with a business degree.

However, over the past two years, Antonio decided to place a larger focus on his study of studio art and art history, now hoping to receive a Masters of Fine Arts in the future.

“I started to paint around 4 years ago,” Antonio said. “For me, it’s about controlling the world within the art.”

Antonio cited his study of art history as another one of his artistic motives, speaking on the historical development of art and his personal desire to have a contribution to the continuous “evolution” of art.

Aside from Antonio’s inner drive to create and make waves within the art world, the artist also spoke on the benefits that art can provide to the community, believing it to also be an opportunity for outreach.

Over interim, Antonio led art classes to a local Kids Club and, in February, he helped teach similar classes to the elderly.

“Through the art department, there are lots of opportunities for giving back and teaching about art,” said Antonio.

In addition to the benefit of the arts to the community, Webster believes the arts play an integral role in the college environment itself, as the arts can be a unique place to “engage in conversations that are a little more abstract,” allowing students to explore what he deems the “gray areas” of an often “black-and-white” approach of education in other fields of study.

Though a newer and often less-emphasized program at Wofford, the art department appears to be full of sharp minds from students and faculty alike, proving it to play a significant role in the realm of a holistic liberal arts education.

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Nola Webb, Staff Writer
Economics & French Major from Charleston, SC
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