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2023 Projects

The College of Creative Arts 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 Collaborative Award from the WVU Research Office. Awards will be announced by the end of the Spring 2023 semester.

Watch all 2023 CCA Mentored Research Project Introductions

Undergraduate Projects

Exploring the Effects of Dance and Movement in Aphasia Rehabilitation

Undergraduate Student Honorable Mention

by Sadie Arnold, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Maureen Kaddar

Pilot study, April 2022 – December 2023


Sadie Arnold headshot

Aphasia is an impairment in the abilities to express and understand language. Aphasia can be caused by stroke, brain injury or as a developing neurodegenerative disease. Dance has already been proven to hold physical, mental, and emotional benefits. These benefits are possible through the existence of mirror neurons and improved neurogenesis through dance. We hypothesize that including dance as an adjunct to already-existing therapy practices has potential benefits in aphasia treatment. A small, exploratory pilot study was completed to explore the potential of adding dance as an adjunct therapy for aphasia. The overall theme of patient mood improvement supports that dance is a potential safe and potentially worthwhile addition to aphasia therapy. Dancing with patients who have limited linguistic capabilities provided opportunities for expression and connection that were lost once language skills became damaged. Further research is needed to further determine the full potential for benefit, although we know that dance is a strong modality for rehabilitation.

Listen to Sadie's Introduction and Artist Statement | Exploring the Effects of Dance and Movement in Aphasia Rehabilitation (PDF)
Faculty Mentor Statement: Maureen Kaddar Statement (PDF)

The Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale (FEATS) Digital Archival Project

Undergraduate Student 1st Place

by Emily Budik, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Annie McFarland and Dr. Linda Gantt

Art Therapy Research, April 2022 – Present


A slide from the Art Therapy presentation

The Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale (FEATS) Digital Archival Project is something that I am confident will change the worlds of mental health and art therapy understanding to a point that we cannot comprehend just yet. Because art therapy is a new form of therapy, there are small amounts of research done in the field and an even smaller amount that have been repeated to see reliable results that can be replicated. Using a PPAT (Person Picking and Apple From a Tree (art diagnostic assessment)) and FEATS in combination has created outcomes that show objective outcomes within diagnoses and demographics. The FEATS scales are a way to create quantitative data out of something that was initially qualitative. This will result in a database that can be used to do further research upon, as well as added onto if external art therapists and psychologists adhere to the same guidelines for their results. There are so many things to be said about this project, and I am just excited to be able to be a part of something with people such as Dr. Linda Gantt and Dr. Anne McFarland who are pioneers in the field. To be learning under them as well as creating the database with them, it has simply confirmed the passion that I always knew I could find in a field of study. I foresee this research to be another landmark case of research in the ever growing field of art therapy.

Listen to Emily's Introduction and Artist Statement | The Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale (FEATS) Digital Archival Project (PowerPoint) | In depth presentation (Google Slides)
Faculty Mentor Statement: Annie McFarland Statement (PDF)


by Samuel Campbell , School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Mark Benincosa

Beat Tape made of all originally composed, and performed samples, October 2022 – February 2023


Samuel Campbell working on the computer

This EP is comprised of beats that I have made over the past couple of months. I first got the idea for the project back in September of 2022, and started making music to fit the theme of the project. The project is a conceptual piece of work in which each piece represents a different significant address in my life. These include places that I've lived, and worked at, that shape who I am today. These pieces focus on the good and bad of my life, and mostly change that I've gone through. The project took time and I feel like as I have changed over the year the production changed with me, thus furthering the idea of the project. There will be further explanation in the youtube video.

Listen to Samuel's Introduction and Artist Statement | Bounces for project
Faculty Mentor Statement: Mark Benincosa Statement (PDF)

Arduino Kintsugi Dagger

by Jennifer Corona, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Jason Zeh

Interactive sculpture, December 18, 2022


Arduino Kintsugi Dagger sculpture by Jennifer Corona I created this project last semester with help from my interactive design professor, Jason Zeh. I call it an “Arduino Kintsugi Dagger”, as it uses the power of Arduino kits we were given in class, and the software Touchdesigner. Inside the resin sword I created by pouring liquid resin into a mold, I placed 2 sensors, an accelerometer to read the tilt angle of the sword, and an RGB sensor to read RGB light colors. I then recorded audio files of me speaking the lines from 3 poems I wrote about heartbreak and strife, to build upon the Japanese art of kintsugi, which is taking broken pieces of pottery and ceramics, and mending them with golden lacquer to create something broken, but beautiful. The sword has broken pieces of ceramics, pressed flowers and gold foil inside. The color of RGB light the sensor inside the sword sensed picked which of the three of my poems was read, and the tilt angle chose which line from said poem was read aloud through the software. Jason Zeh's expertise in the interactive performance/sculpture field helped me immensely, and he walked me through every tough situation from hardware issues, to software malfunctions. We started from just an abstract idea, and somehow this bloomed into a fully functional electronic work of art.

Dagger close up

Faculty Mentor Statement: Jason Zeh Statement (PDF)

Kulturheros: Arnold Böcklin and the Image of the “German Hero” as a Reflection of Modern Society

by Rebekah Gooding, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rhonda Reymond

Senior Capstone - Thesis Research Paper Poster, November 2022 – April 2023


Kulturheros: Arnold Böcklin and the Image of the “German Hero”  as a Reflection of Modern Society

Painter Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) was widely considered a “Kulturheros” or “Cultural Hero” by German society at the time of his death. However, he was not German. In a society that was becoming increasingly nationalistic and focused on the idea of the German identity, Böcklin, a man from Switzerland who spent most of his life in Italy, somehow became known as one of the most iconic German painters of the late nineteenth century. By analyzing how Böcklin was discussed in primary sources and how that discussion connects to his art, this research demonstrates for the first time how Böcklin fulfilled two roles in the social and political structure of the German Empire. First, he and his art embodied an escape from industrialized society; they projected an idealized society that the Bildungsbürgertum (educated middle class) longed for as they became increasingly paranoid that humanity was losing its connection with nature. Second, he was considered skilled enough to compete with the artistic geniuses of the dominant European artistic powers of France, England, and Russia. He was so famous that it was rumored that every middle-class household in Germany owned a copy of his painting Isle of the Dead. By the end of his career, Böcklin became known as a Kulturheros who embodied the best of what Germany had to contribute to European conversations about art. These factors contributed to German society’s ability to ignore Böcklin’s Swiss lineage and facilitated his rise to fame at the end of the nineteenth century.

Faculty Mentor Statement: Rhonda Reymond Statement (PDF)

Snack Lounge: A Patterned Exploration of Social Functions in Design

by Kieah Hamric, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Jason Zeh

Painting, 2022


Three paintings, Snack Lounge, in 2nd floor lounge

The purpose of my piece was to explore social functions of a space and how a viewer interacts with the visual stimulus in a room. This design employed in this work leans into the purpose of this room by creating three pieces comprised of snacks typically found in a vending machine. This design takes these snack elements and creates a tasteful pattern that is repeated throughout all three works. As a graphic design student, I learn and talk a lot about composition layout and color so I decided to focus on these elements while creating my piece. The repetition seen in the works creates a sense of unity amongst the three works while the colors create differentiation that make the works stand on their own and become three distinctive works culminating into this wall display. These designs use many colors that create a retro 1970s vibe which correspond with the vending machines in the sense that during this time period these machines were extremely popular. The purpose of these pieces is to create a fun space where people can sit and enjoy a snack.

Faculty Mentor Statement: Jason Zeh Statement (PDF)

Survey of Tenor Banjos Created by Andrew Boarman

by Isaac McCarthy, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Travis Stimeling

Ethnographic research study, May 2022 – December 2022


Image of a tenor banjo

This ethnographic study attempts to document the extent to which West Virginian bluegrass luthier Andrew Boarman created tenor banjos. Andrew Boarman, known for his renowned “Dixie Grand” line of 5-string banjos, has never been formally documented to make tenor banjos prior to the identification of one, and as such, through both archival research and live interviews, this study exhausts all possible lines of information documenting the extent to which Boarman’s work creating these instruments can be identified. Through these methods, this study concretely identified one tenor banjo and uncovered discrepancies linking Andrew Boarman to up to two other instruments of a similar caliber, ultimately debunking the validity of such statements. This study concluded that the tenor banjo, originally constructed as a gift, was confirmed to be both constructed by Andrew Boarman and the only tenor banjo he ever made.

Isaac McCarthy presenting his work at the Fall 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Faculty Mentor Statement: Travis Stimeling Statement (PDF)

Accessible Recordings for New Musicians

by Christian Rhen, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Joshua Swiger

Recorded musical works, September 2021 – April 2023


CJ Rhen working on the piano

Musicians do not have equal access to the music industry. There are financial barriers that prevent artists from accessing tools for recording, marketing, and distribution that hold back artists' ability to grow and mature their craft. Accessible Recordings for New Musicians is a project looking into the entry barriers in music production and empowering new West Virginian artists by investigating methods to make the recording process more accessible. In addition to a steady decrease in the price for audio equipment and other music industry tools that are necessary to make a song or album come into fruition, the standard model of production and the recording process leaves room for more efficient use of time and budgets that can allow new artists to focus more on the quality of their work and less about logistics. To achieve this, Accessible Recordings for New Musicians is working primarily with two projects to produce their original work starting with an unconventional demo that reduces the financial investment for preliminary work in the recording process. This demo is the basis for the entire recording process and allows for more flexibility to create a commercially viable recording suitable for release on streaming platforms. By breaking the traditional mold of the recording process, New Music in West Virginia hopes to discover efficient and cost effective methods to make professional levels of recording more obtainable for artists without the means for a large investment into entry costs in the music industry.

Faculty Mentor Statement: Joshua Swiger Statement (PDF)

The Hidden History of Elizabeth Moore Hall

by Abbigale Snyder, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Maureen Kaddar

Research Project, Gathering and Organization of Archival Materials, September 2022 – December 2022


Mountain Jazz WVU Ballet Ensemble pamphlet from 1991

My mentored research project involved the gathering and organization of archival material of the dance groups that have been a part of WVU. My focus involved discovering more about different individuals’ experiences in Orchesis, the modern dance group that ran from 1928 until 2010. I interviewed Carolyn Jackson, who was a member of Orchesis from 1971-1974. She was able to provide me with many different pictures, programs, and articles as well as personal stories involving Kacy Wiedebusch, a woman who worked fearlessly to progress dance at WVU. Carolyn was able to explain their rehearsal and performance process as well as discuss the very first American College Dance Association’s festival, which is currently having their 50th anniversary this year. She was a member of the student representatives who helped organized the festival along with Mrs. Wiedebusch. She discussed the very family-oriented style of Orchesis which is something I feel that the Dance Program continues to do today. For the project, I also helped host a clean-up day to organize our hard copies of archival material in E. Moore Hall. It was wonderful to show our majors the rich history that we have. After my work on this archival material on dance at the university, our program now has online copies of pictures, articles, and programs organized by decade and labeled from years as early as 1940s that our dancers can see to learn about how our program was founded and built by the creative and brilliant individuals before us.

"Its Been a Great Journey" newspaper article

Faculty Mentor Statement: Maureen Kaddar Statement (PDF)

Silver Hourglass

by Kristy Zou, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Tiffany Delligatti

Support Garment, Craft, January 27 – February 24, 2023


front view of a silver corset created by Kristy Zou

This corset holds a story behind the 3-4 weeks' time of my life battling my doubts about how the corset will turn out in the end. It holds my blood, sweat, and sore hands for it to become what it is on display. This corset is made out of 5 materials, fashion fabric, lining fabric, coutil, boning, and steel busk. However, the challenging part is sewing them together with precision. I’m a huge perfectionist when it comes to my work. Up close there are some minor flaws because I was mentally burned out while finishing the touchups. The minor flaws show when you’re mentally tired it also reflects how the work will turn out. I believe anyone can create a corset as long as they have the mentality and preparation knowing it’ll take lots of time and laborious effort. During the time I spent creating this piece, I had doubts in my head about whether or not I will be able to finish it before the assigned due date. I’ve been poked by sewing needles many times to ensure everything was sewn on correctly. Without my friends and professor cheering me on and never showing any doubt by believing in me, I would've given up. I want to give them a huge thanks and a hug.

Silver hourglass corset with laced up back

Faculty Mentor Statement: Tiffany Delligatti Statement (PDF)

Graduate Projects

Jazz and West African Aesthetics: Traditional Ghanaian Drum Ensemble Concepts Applied to Jazz Drumset

Graduate Student 1st Place

by Joseph Boulos, School of Music

Faculty Mentors: Prof. Brian Wolfe and Dr. Michael Vercelli

Research document - Method/work book, April 26th, 2022


John Boulus headshot

Much of the pedagogical scholarship of non-Western percussion ensembles applied to the drumset focuses on condensing the polyvocality of sounds and textures performed by multiple players and instruments down to one player and a set of drums. Specifically, when applied to West African drum ensembles, this sonic approximation applied by one player leads the learner to emphasize more technical components surrounding rhythmic dexterity. While this approach effectively emulates the sound of multiple players being carried out by one, an understanding of these traditional polyvocal textures as applied to the movements performed by a single player has remained an overlooked component within this recontextualisation. When examining an approximation of rhythmic structures employed within Ghanaian drum ensembles to the jazz drumset, the original aesthetic and musicality found within Ghanaian traditions are often left behind and superseded by technical aspects This study provides readers with a comprehensive guide to connecting the aesthetic traditions of West African drum ensembles to the drumset in the context of jazz. An understanding of the traditions of jazz, the influence of Africa in the United States, the basic construction of a traditional West African drum ensemble, and the analysis of three drummer; Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Ed Blackwell, will lead to a more comprehensive application of non-Western musical concepts applied to jazz. Although this study is specific to West African drum ensembles, the contents can be applied to the research of other non-Western percussion ensembles and their link to the drumset.

Sheet Music for Timeline PErception Etude

Art-Based Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum in the K-6 Classroom: A Mixed Methods Study

Graduate Student Honorable Mention

by Michelle Fegeley, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Terese Giobbia and Dr. Annie McFarland

Thesis (Research Paper), Fall 2021 – Spring 2023


Student example of the weather drawn

Across the United States, educators are seeing a rise in the mental health crisis and need for more Social and Emotional Learning being implemented into the curriculum. The need for SEL implementation in schools and students needing help regulating and working through their emotions has been heightened by the COVID 19 pandemic and the virtual schooling over the last two years.

Student example of the weather drawn

Students are having trouble managing, expressing, and regulating their emotions because students are more stressed than ever before. Studies have shown that including SEL into the curriculum has benefited students and evidence that supports SEL practices being implemented in the art education classroom.

Student example of the weather drawn

There are still gaps in research with much of the research following SEL in the fine arts classroom focusing on music, dance and theater, and little written about the implementation in the art classroom. While there are some SEL art curriculums written, like Art with Heart, there is a gap in research backing up SEL-centered art curriculums. This mixed methods study promotes the implementation of SEL art curriculum and how it can help reduce stress in students. This research centers around four case studies focusing on SEL completed in first, fourth and sixth grade art classrooms. Finally, this research examines the benefits to implementing an art curriculum focusing on SEL to promote stress reduction in students and help students to begin to regulate and manage their emotions in the school setting.

“My Brass is Chopped Out”: Metaphors and Strategies for Fostering Brass Students’ Endurance

by Ryan Kerwin, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robert Sears

Scholarly Presentation, December 2022 – March 2023


Ryan Kerwin headshot

Powerful brass sections create some of the most exciting sounds in music, but frequently developing brass students experience fatigue that makes performing music frustrating and nerve-wracking. The endurance needed to consistently perform repertoire in school ensembles can be elusive, even for experienced brass players. Though this is one of the most common concerns among young brass students, coaching students to develop sustainable performance techniques often requires specialist guidance. This research compiles approaches inspired by master brass teachers including Arnold Jacobs, Vincent Chicowicz, and Phillip Farkas to offer practical rehearsal strategies ensemble directors can use to help their developing brass players achieve reliable endurance. The presentation was featured at the 2023 WVMEA conference and provided detailed explanations of the causes and symptoms of fatigue in developing brass students and an analysis of common metaphors brass players and teachers have used to teach brass-playing endurance. The project also included the development of original resources for band and orchestra directors with explanations of common technical errors that limit brass students’ endurance, nuanced language for coaching students to develop sustainable techniques, and systematic warm-ups for young brass sections.

Faculty Mentor Statement: Robert Sears Statement (PDF)

Osvaldo Golijov’s Hebreische Milonga: Dancing Between the Jewish and Tango Diaspora

by Gerardo Sanchez Pastrana , School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Erin Ellis

Performance, research document, February 27 – 28, 2023


Hebreische Milonga Meeting with Golijov and Performance screenshot of zoom meeting

Osvaldo Golijov’s Hebreische Milonga raises the question of how Jewish and tango cultures are connected. Osvaldo Golijov was born in 1960 in La Plata, Argentina, in an Ashkenazi Jewish household. Golijov was raised surrounded by classical music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and Astor Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango. His style is characterized by the combination of folk, popular, religious, and art music in a modern context. Osvaldo Golijov’s Hebreische Milonga was written in September 2020 in memory of Octavio Brunetti, a friend of the composer who died at the age of 39. This piece is characterized by its depth of expression, sensuality, melancholy, and transcendence, which reflects the nostalgic and expressive ethos present in Yiddish literature and the erotism of the tango. These elements are portrayed in abstract language, which is a characteristic of Golijov’s music.

I will perform Golijov’s Hebreische Milonga in my recital in March 2023. My teacher, Dr. Erin Ellis, encouraged me to contact the composer for looking for the opportunity to work alongside him. In a Zoom meeting, Golijov pointed out the similarities between tango dancing and the interaction between the cello and the piano in this piece and his references to Baroque music, Brahms Symphony No. 1, Akhron’s Hebraische Melodie, and Piazzolla’s music. Realizing these elements helped me to have a better understanding and performance of this piece. Golijov’s Hebreische Milonga is a clear representation of the interculturality that classical music needs nowadays to have a stronger impact on the audience and society.

Faculty Mentor Statement: Erin Ellis Statement (PDF)

Between These Shadows

by Kristian Thacker, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Joseph Galbreath

Handmade artist book, Printed 11/2022, Bound 12/2022


A page from the printed book featuring the side of a building with a budding bush

In the Fall 2022 semester I studied with Joe Galbreath to learn bookmaking and how to print with a risograph. My research and conversation with risograph printers across the country allowed me to achieve the results I wanted in my prints quickly. Galbreath’s extensive knowledge of bookmaking guided me and allowed me to try several methods of binding. After some experimentation I decided on a perfect bound book with risograph printed pages enclosed in a slipcase for Between These Shadows. Between These Shadows started after the birth of my son in 2017 and has continued since.

A page from the printed book featuring images of a street and plants

On walks I took with him I began photographing and rephotographing places along the route. The walks functioned as meditative practice honing my vision and giving me space to see ideas develop. Though the images are documentary in nature, the sequence and the representation of locations photographed repeatedly creates new associations between the images. The book forms a bridge between the viewer’s experience and my own as I made these images. Every shimmer of light that flickers across the page recreates the ephemeral moment the images were created for the viewer.

The physical nature of the book encourages the viewer to revisit its pages, paralleling the walks I made while creating these photographs. Images cross the fold of the page fragmenting them and highlighting the difference between how the camera records the world and how we perceive it. Each aspect of the book works to reinforce the visual narrative it contains for the viewer.

Faculty Mentor Statement: Joseph Galbreath Statement (PDF)

Collaborative Project

Audacious Women: Societal and Environmental Impacts on Women through Dance

Collaborative Award 1st Place

by Elena Maddy and Bec Hyde, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Yoav Kaddar

Performance, February 18, 2023


A woman dancing outside of a building

Throughout time, women have borne their children along with the brunt of society’s pressures, changing with each decade’s new rules, including those that define who does and does not qualify as a woman. We are adding our voices to the researchers and dissenters of these societal rules and creating a space for women to feel seen and heard, while also educating those who do not identify as women on the daily struggles women face. We are contributing our findings and experiences through our own medium: dance. Audacious Women is a choreography project that analyzes societal rules imposed upon women and how those rules impact their sexuality, sensuality, and sense of self using modern dance. Modern dance is a genre of dance that focuses on storytelling through organic and abstracted movement. We chose this style of dance because it can be free of gendered movement and possesses theatrical elements, enabling us to utilize our training that combines a BFA degree in Musical Theatre and a BA in Dance. Our research on gendered movement and the female narrative is intended to create a performance that will empower all women in the West Virginia University community. We hope to continue the performance outside of WVU to spread this empowerment to a broader audience. We acknowledge that these issues are a worldwide experience and strive to make a difference in our own community, in order to plant the seed of change.

Faculty Mentor Statement: Yoav Kaddar Statement (PDF)