Skip to main content

2021 Projects

The College of Creative Arts Faculty Student Mentored Research awards demonstrate the exceptional mentored research work being conducted in the arts at West Virginia University. Research in the arts can take many forms: exhibitions, performances, publications, scholarly research and more.

This display will also be part of WVU's Research Week . Awards are supported by the CCA Dean's Office, with additional support for the new Collaborative Award from the WVU Research Office.

Watch all 2021 Faculty/Student Mentored Research Project Introductions


by Hanna Kesty, MFA, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Joseph Lupo and Jason Lee

Sculpture, 2020-2021


21st, Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake, Clear Push Pins, Installation View
Warning: Sensitive Content. This Statement Includes Topics Discussing Self-Harm.

“21st” brings attention to visceral, physical sensations through combining what typically can and cannot be eaten. Specifically, I am pairing an object that evokes pleasure and happiness, inviting viewers closer, with one that can cause pain if ingested - immediately causing viewers discomfort. The cake displayed is a lemon poppy-seed bundt cake, corresponding to the cake that I asked my mother to bake for my twenty-first birthday. Baked within the cake are clear push-pins, the specific object I used to self-harm.

21st, Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake, Clear Push Pins, Installation View
Fortunately, by my twenty-first birthday I had successfully stopped self-harming but was still in an unhealthy place psychologically and emotionally with passive thoughts of self-harm. The purpose of this piece is to bring light to both the physical and emotional trauma that I inflicted upon myself, while also commenting on the irony between the day that you are supposed to celebrate your life yet no longer wanting to exist. For this piece, my research involved having to reinsert myself back to my twenty-first birthday and back to those episodes of self-harm.

Images: "21st," Lemon Poppy seed Bundt Cake, Clear Push Pins, Installation View

A History of Multiphonics on the Horn

by Jordan Bennet, DMA, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Jonas Thoms

Research paper, October - December 2020Also exhibited at: Northeast Horn Workshop Presentation - forthcoming (March 2021); The Horn Call Journal - forthcoming (tentatively accepted for October 2021 issue)


Jordan Bennett headshot
Multiphonics, also known as vocalizations or horn chords, is the technique of producing multiple sounding pitches while playing an instrument which is designed to play only one note at a time. Typically, producing a multiphonic pitch requires playing one note on the instrument while simultaneously humming or singing another note, though brass players can also produce multiphonics using only the lips. Multiphonics is usually considered a novelty technique which grew in popularity during the twentieth century, though composers and performers have been aware of its potential since at least the eighteenth century, as illustrated by a famous example from Carl Maria von Weber’s Horn Concertino (1806, rev. 1815).

Written music representing a Multiphonics exercise
This paper traces the use of multiphonics on the horn throughout the instrument’s history, including an overview of the method books that comment on the technique, performers who were important contributors to the technique’s popularity, and compositions throughout the horn’s history in which multiphonics have appeared. Although multiphonics has grown in popularity since the latter half of the twentieth century, research on its history continues to be limited. The paper also addresses the gaps in the literature and postulates how these gaps may be resolved.

Image 1: Headshot of paper author Jordan Bennett.
Image 2: Multiphonics exercise and reproduction of the Weber cadenza from Oscar Franz’s Complete Method Book for the French Horn .

Supporting Content: Jordan's Mentor Statement (PDF)

Dance Archiving of WVU: Building a Community of Memories

by Olivia McCarty, Senior, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Maureen Kaddar

Archive Research, September 2019 - present


Orchesis Materials 1979 - PresentDuring the 1900s dancers at WVU were unable to pursue dance as a major but dedicated much of their free time to dance by participating in the group “Orchesis”. The work that began the West Virginia University Dance Archive Project has involved scanning and documenting files, including images, posters, programs, and tickets from the mid-late 20th century. This documentation has led us to be able to preserve the history of the group that helped lead WVU to creating a dance major in 2014. This research has also led us to be able to create a large alumni list that we are actively compiling to reach out to and make plans for reunions in the near future. Creating a strong relationship among alumni will aid in future opportunities for the dance program in aspects of funding, and potential employment for current students in the program. Maureen and I are working to inform and encourage underclassmen to participate in the project so it can be ongoing after I graduate this May. The continuation of this project is essential for the outreach efforts, and to create a community with those who have been a part of dancing at West Virginia University. Dance at WVU has been taking place in the studio above E. Moore Hall for over 90 years. The dance program is continuing to grow and improve each year; it is important for us to also pay tribute to those who worked in the same studio we use years and years before us.

Images: 50th Anniversary of Orchesis Concert Poster, 1979; Summer Dance Program Flyer, 1979; Orchesis Dance Concert Poster, 1988 (E. Moore Hall Background); Orchesis Dance Ensemble Group Photo, 2000


by Lauren Cook, Junior, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Gerald Habarth

Rotoscope, Fall 2020


Decline is an expression of the isolation, despondence, and loss of purpose I faced in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is an exploration of the ways that both external and internal changes combine to reshape realities, particularly in times of suffering. I depict a side-by-side view of my morning routine before and during the pandemic. On the left, a happier version of myself experiences a normalcy I took for granted. She is motivated and her outlook is positive. On the right, I feel the weight of mental pathways newly pried open and a shifted understanding of what it means to exist. Day-to-day activities seem to lose relevance.

Supporting Content: Watch "Decline"


by Taylor Walker, Senior, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Yoav Kaddar

Dance Performance, November 28, 2020Also exhibited at: American College Dance Association (ACDA) adjudicated screen dance festival on April 10-24 2021


In this creative work, I wanted to involve myself in the Black Lives Matter movement and perform a creative interpretation of the feelings I embrace. The protests and speeches and other creative works done by the community like music, art, design and dance has shown how they view the issues that pertain to racism. With all the hidden history of black Americans during slavery, segregation, and heinous crimes against people with dark skin, is hard to process. Taking it all in can give the longing question, Why? Taking a stand together can end racism in this country and form a type of unification that we have never seen before. I was grateful to be a part of the marches and protests amongst COVID in summer 2020. This community has come together to make sure we are noticed in accordance to Black Lives Matter. This is how I wanted to display my voice in the movement in my peaceful protest called "Enough."

Supporting content: Mentor's Statement (PDF)

Finding Our Voice: Jessie Montgomery's Banner

by The Montani Quartet, MM and DMA, School of Music

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Erin Ellis and Dr. Mitchell Arnold

Musical Performance, February 18, 2021


“What does an anthem for the 21st Century sound like in today’s multicultural environment?” Jessie Montgomery’s Banner, a work written for solo string quartet and string orchestra, was commissioned by the Sphinx Organization as a tribute for the 200th anniversary of the National Anthem of the United States. Banner includes many tunes from different cultural backgrounds such as National Anthems and folk songs. This music portrays how each culture continues to embrace their own roots while enriching the American cultural landscape. The performance of the piece creates the perfect scenario where all cultures interact exalting the values of liberty and justice for all. This work was performed for the very first time on campus in February 2021. The creative process encountered many challenges for the quartet. These challenges include the acoustical issues related to the COVID-19 protocols (the spacing of six feet) and difficulties with the contemporary style of compositional writing. The Montani Quartet worked with the West Virginia University Symphony Orchestra (WVUSO) for this concert. With the help of the WVUSO conductor, Dr. Mitchell Arnold, and our chamber coach, Dr. Erin Ellis, the ensemble was able to reach our performance goals: collaboration and communication. This performance was also the representation of Montani’s own reality: a multicultural ensemble with members from three different countries working together to find their own voice while communicating the composer’s message.

Goldmark: Passim

by Nathaniel Turner, Junior, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mitchell Arnold

Performance and Research Paper, October 2020


All that persists of Goldmark’s output in the repertoire today is his A minor violin concerto. Both performers and critics have often made overarching statements about this concerto, which hasn’t recently enjoyed the popularity of some of its romantic cousins. This has allowed such statements to go broadly unexamined. Phillip Huscher, in program notes for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, invokes Goldmark’s love for Mendelssohn. The liner notes for Vera Tsu’s 1996 Naxos release claim that this work is a “development of the musical language of Mendelssohn,” suggestive of his “idiom,” and that it exists “firmly in [Mendelssohn’s] tradition.” Mendelssohn certainly was a titanic cultural figure during the formative years of Goldmark's career, however, study of Goldmark’s concerto and memoir indicates less of a great Mendelssohnian influence and more of a wide-ranging network of inspirations in the compositional process. Despite the presence of Mendelssohn-like “turns of phrase,” similar key area/figuration combinations, even quotes, these are present from various sources, and the alleged Mendelssohnian characteristics appear in arguably less convincing ways than the influences of composers whom Goldmark knew, worked with, and admired. Among them, Liszt, Brahms, and Wagner. With such a thick layer of attribution looming over Goldmark in the public consciousness, the task at hand is to elucidate his influences, and not expect that the listener distinguish such influence by “private intuitions, but from a study of [the] musical imagery.” We must examine the “expressive vocabulary” used by Goldmark and seek out the origin of its several contents.

Intuitive Response to Materials and the Implications on Meaning in Sculpture: Explorations in Concrete

by Molly Davis, MFA in Sculpture, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Jason Lee

Sculpture, September - December 2020


Images of Molly Davis' concrete sculpturesThe primary focus of my research was an exploration of the material of concrete as a sculptural medium. My first use of concrete was primarily utilitarian, using it as a base for a sculpture. This first experiment piqued my curiosity and led me to pursue the material further. I became interested in concrete for its color, texture, weight, and versatility, as well as the associations with its traditional uses in construction and urban development. Throughout my experimentation, I discovered more reasons to appreciate concrete as a medium. I found that I particularly enjoyed the process of removing the molds from the cast concrete. It was such an act of discovery to take apart, tear, or break away the form from around the concrete to see what had resulted inside. I was often shocked at the detail and sheen that was left on the surface of the concrete. In other instances, the concrete would crumble, crack, or have holes from trapped air. Either result I found interesting. The concrete was simply acting as itself, with the effects of any variables in the production process, allowing the imperfections and anomalies to happen. From there, I took the resulting pieces of concrete, simple blocks, casts of consumable products, experiments in texture, and I considered their formal qualities, their surfaces, and possible societal associations, and I responded by combining and arranging the pieces into various sculptural works that reflect or complement their individual attributes.

Images: Larder, Larder, Stack, Intersection

Supporting Content: Mentor's Statement (PDF)

Moralizing the Music of Italian Renaissance Courtesan: Barbara Salutati and Niccolo Machiavelli

by Micah Buser, Junior, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Walker

Research paper presentation, August 15, 2020 - February 28, 2021


During the Italian Renaissance, courtesans used their musical talents to attract wealthy and powerful men to whom they functioned as escorts. Though little is known about her life and work, this presentation shows how Barbara Salutati, unlike other courtesans of her time, used her musical talents to her advantage by inspiring the creative output and everyday life of one of her most famous patrons, Niccolò Machiavelli. Public performances were not common for women during the Renaissance, but Salutati still took the stage often and under Machiavelli’s direction. But though courtesans like Salutati and a public figure like Machiavelli often had reputations that marked them as deceitful, immoral, and dangerous, these individuals curated their public images to be an antidote to such deceitful ills. To create an acceptable image for Salutati in the public eye, Machiavelli, and a commissioned artist, Domenico Puligo, blended aspects of Salutati’s career and appearance with the most visible markers of Christianity – even going so far as to compare her to Christianity’s most idealized woman, the Virgin Mary. This transformation was enacted within the framework of Machiavelli’s own views on religion in society: while he saw religion as a man-made system of beliefs, he found the moral behaviors encouraged by religion to be necessary elements of a well-ordered society. This project reveals how Salutati’s social and musical image, as the product of a collaborative creation between a courtesan and her high-profile client, both conformed to and challenged the narrative of the Italian Renaissance courtesan.

Supporting Content:

Ri Ra: An Album of Flute Works Combining Western Classical and Middle Eastern Aesthetics

by Dustin White, MM, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Nina Assimakopoulos

Recording, June 16, 2020 - February 26, 2021

Virtual performances of three of the seven works (including one world premiere) have occurred during live-streamed WVU flute studio recitals in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. However, none of the recordings appearing on the album have been presented yet due to contractual agreements between the composers, record label, and artist and the fact that the album is in post-production at the time of this application.


Album artwork displaying the name “Dustin White” as well as the title of the album “Ri Ra” in Latin and Arabic text. An eye with smoke and trees in the pupil is pictured with a river flowing out of the eye's pupil. Album artwork by Emma Riehlman.
Ri Ra is a solo recording project featuring works for multiple members of the flute family. It is the sole recorded anthology of its kind providing documentation of unique compositional thought within contemporary classical music. The project provides the general public, musicians, and scholars who specialize in the study of contemporary classical music access to a novel subgenre of music.

Most of the works collected for this album were selected as a result of a call for scores which took place from 6/16/20-9/11/20 and received over 70 submissions from composers all over the world. This call strove to find compositions inspired by Middle-Eastern musical traditions and/or by composers of Middle-Eastern descent. The composers selected as winners from this call are from the countries of Iran and Lebanon.

Headshot of Dustin White with his flute

My research includes the investigation of recording studio techniques, liner note research and writing, commissioning album artwork from a visual artist, as well as social media promotion in anticipation of the project release. This album’s repertoire requires mastery of innovative performance practices on multiple instruments that go beyond the conventional playing techniques of the instrument, known within the field as "extended techniques."

The recordings on this album are the first commercially available recordings of the works, while three of the seven works are premiere recordings of brand-new works. The album is in post-production, with a scheduled release date in April on the Mon Hills Records label.

Image 1: Album artwork displaying the name “Dustin White” as well as the title of the album “Ri Ra” in Latin and Arabic text. An eye with smoke and trees in the pupil is pictured with a river flowing out of the eye's pupil. Album artwork by Emma Riehlman.
Image 2: Headshot of Dustin White with his flute

Suite of New American Dances: I. Landy

by Anthony Panebianco, MM, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Yu-Chun Chien

Research/Composition, September 2020 - March 2021


Suite of New American Dances is a creative and research centric project combine the various disciplines studied during my time at WVU; Conducting, Composition, and Education. Designed to be an homage to Robert Russell Bennett's Suite of Old American dances, the suite incorporates quotations, stylistic listening, and popular music sensibilities. Each movement is meant to be a continuation from its predecessors dances: Lindy, Twist, Hustle, Break, Thrash, and Grind. Bennett's arrangements and structures were researched and analyzed in the compositional process, as well as the standards of the great American songbook and the dance styles of the Jazz age for this particular piece (Lindy). Each part was written individual with consultation of conductors and players being a primary source of feedback, as well as the incorporation of more contemporary composing/arranging techniques and lexicon.

The Memorization, Preparation, and Performance of Piano Music: Cognitive Foundations and Current Neuro-Music Research

by Amy Simpson, DMA, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Peter Amstutz

Research Paper, May 1, 2020 - February 23, 2021


Amy Simpson, headshot, music scores, piano, image of children with a piano, image of brain
Memorization of piano music for performance has often been shrouded in mystery. Now, there is a body of neuro-music research that addresses how musicians perceive, learn, and memorize music, and how these processes operate in music performance. This paper is a compendium of such research, specifically focused on piano music and piano performance, intended to benefit performing musicians, professional teachers, music students, and neuro-music researchers, alike.
This research explains the operation of human memory systems, including the concepts of short-term memory, long-term memory, working memory, chunking, categorization, schemas, and auditory scene analysis.

From this platform, the paper addresses aspects of music memorization, such as perceptual memorization, multi-modal memorization, plasticity, individual differences, memory for melody, expertise, meaningfulness, and reward. A brief history and discussion of motor learning and generalized motor programs precedes current research comparing motor learning to perceptual learning.

This research discusses memory acquisition, stabilization, and sleep consolidation, supported by a compilation of current piano specific research. Further, it considers the role of the original modality of learning, and reviews best music practice techniques and theories, including significant aspects of metacognition and the importance of attention.
This work covers auditory imagery at length, including multi-modal imagery as used by musicians in practice and in performance. Additionally, this paper presents new information on the abilities of working memory in practice and performance, and methods for developing music expressiveness.

Finally, this research presents the concept of music embodiment as a wholistic and pragmatic approach for present and future research.

Watch Amy's Project Introduction (YouTube)
Supporting Content: Mentor's Statement (PDF) |

Touching Light: A Framework for Music-making in Mixed Reality

by Ian Riley, DMA, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: George Willis

Research Paper/Dissertation, September 2020 - March 2021


Drawing upon the historical development of analog and digital technologies alongside the proliferation of computer assisted performance practices, this research seeks to develop a framework for integrating Mixed Reality applications to live musical performance, specifically through the creation of a Microsoft HoloLens 2 Mixed Reality application to facilitate a live performance of an original musical composition for percussion and real-time Mixed Reality environment. The application enables a performer to interact with virtual (holograms, VSTs, etc.) and physical (vibraphone, tuned drums, microphones, etc.) objects to present a performance of an original musical work. Tandem to the development of the HoloLens application was the composition of an original score for solo percussionist and holographic environment. The score was composed to uniquely serve this interaction between and engagement with virtual instruments and Mixed Reality environments.

Fundamentally, this research seeks to provide a methodology for musicians to engage with Mixed Reality performance opportunities, specifically through the recreation and adaptation of an original composition facilitated via a Microsoft HoloLens 2 application. A proposal of idiomatic performance practices for music-making in Mixed Reality functions as the focus of this project, this framework was derived from iterative experimentation with the Microsoft HoloLens 2 and facilitated by the author’s practical music performance experience.

Watch Ian's Project Introduction (YouTube)
Supporting content: Mentor's Statement (PDF)

Wait for Me: To Hell and Back

by EJ Wogoman, Katie Martin, and Ashley Knox, Juniors, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Cynthia Babin Anderson

Music performance, January - March 2021


We went to hell and back before the world went to hell and hasn’t come back. In March 2020, the WVU oboe studio took a trip to New York City where we saw Broadway’s Hadestown, a modern retelling of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Its resounding message of hope is best demonstrated through these lyrics from the show: “I’m working on a song / it isn’t finished yet / But when it’s done and when I sing it / Spring will come again.” The world changed upon return from NYC, with school moving online just days following, but Hadestown’s message stuck with us. In January 2021, Professor Anderson approached the oboe trio about doing something Hadestown related again. Ashley, a composition major, got to work arranging. We chose the track “Wait for Me” because it is representative of our current situation, waiting for the world to return to normal. Additionally, this is Katie and Ashley’s last semester in the oboe studio, and they graduate into a world of unknowns, just as Orpheus descended into the unknown. We were fortunate enough to find vocalists, Juwan and Dallan, willing to take the roles of Hermes and Orpheus. Other double reeds were happy to lend their skills and Professor Joshua Swiger and Jason Zeh recorded. In this scene, Orpheus seeks out Eurydice, who has just gone to Hadestown searching for warmth. Hermes tells Orpheus it was his fault, and the only way to get her back is to take the long road to Hadestown.

Women in Dance: Making Noise Through Movement

by Lilly Runion, Junior, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Maureen Kaddar

Dance Choreography and Performance, September - December 2020


Lilly Runion headshotThis creative work consists of a piece I choreographed and directed the filming of, titled “La Femme.” This piece was inspired by my passion for women’s issues and my studies as a Dance and Women’s and Gender Studies Major. In the Fall of 2020, I conducted a research project under the guidance of Professor Maureen Kaddar. This research involved exploring the impacts of female dancers and choreographers through history, dating back to the origin of dance itself. It was throughout this research that I was inspired to choreograph a piece that would reflect the oppression and silencing of women throughout history, despite their significant roles and impact. I choreographed “La Femme” over the course of three months, drawing inspiration from both my personal experiences as woman, as well as the experiences I have learned about throughout my studies.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, I had the opportunity to adapt and take this dance that would traditionally be performed on stage, and transform it for film. I embraced this opportunity to enhance my vision through visual effects and editing. In preparation for filming “La Femme,” I attended two separate online seminars to expand my knowledge of dance on film. The piece was presented on November 28, 2020 during the WVU Dance Virtual Concert.

Watch Lilly's Project Introduction (YouTube)