The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday September 30th

Collection shows graduate students’ progress

‘First Year’ a diverse mix of styles

A collection of Cambodian clothing dangles from the ceiling of Hanes Art Center. A painting of a severed alligator head hangs nearby.

And though it’s hard to find a common theme running through these and other pieces currently on display as a part of the annual spring showcase of first-year Master of Fine Arts students, the students say their work together has inspired their individual creative efforts.

The works in the John and June Allcott Gallery, displayed through Feb. 11, are a testament to the progress of the graduate students, some of it recently created and others improved throughout the semester.

“It gives a taste of what we are exploring in our work,” said Seoun Som, a master’s student.

As a part of the two-year program, each of the eight students are required to submit art pieces to a faculty adviser several times throughout the first semester for critique.

Neill Prewitt, an artist in the program, said that this process helps him to constantly hone and develop his creative process.

“It’s about getting to know someone’s work — where they’re going, what they want to do — and helping guide them and motivate them,” Prewitt said.

The first-year master’s students meet to brainstorm ideas and comment on each other’s work once a week. Som said that his individual work has benefitted from these discussions.

“I was inspired by the idea of how memory is passed on from one person to another,” Som said.

He drew on personal life experiences to create pieces that tell a story.

While traveling in Cambodia, Som became fascinated by the traditional explorations of life and death. His piece portrays life cycles through the use of distinctive fabrics, color and music.

Nine traditional Cambodian garments are suspended by a string from the gallery ceiling, meant to represent the transcendent nature of death.

Prewitt also drew on cultural associations to create his own piece.

He compiled footage that he captured while visiting Mexico City and set it to music that he created.

“For me they fit together really intuitively,” Prewitt said. “I have a very visual imagination and always associate certain visions with sounds.”

While the students represent diverse artistic perspectives and techniques, Chris Musina said that the small group members learn from one another.

“We somehow feed off each other,” Musina, a first-year in the master’s program, said. “You can look around and see work that relates to each other, and it wasn’t planned.”

Prewitt also said that both the personal and collaborative elements make the show a success.

“This is hugely personal stuff for us that we are trying to share with everyone,” he said. “I think it’s an awesome show, and I’m really proud of it.”

Contact the Arts Editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for March 7, 2022

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive