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2024 Projects

The College of Creative Arts Mentored Research Exhibit demonstrates 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. Awards will be announced by the end of the Spring 2024 semester.

Undergraduate Projects

Floor Five

Molly Featherston as Clara Ford and Ethan Maxwell as Max Anderson in Floor Five, written and directed by Faith King. Production Photos by Charlie Mattingly and Justin Borak

by Faith King, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Cathy O'Dell

Original Play, February 9, 2024 – February 11, 2024


The fifth floor of the offices of Montgomery and Smith publishing has a certain reputation. It’s known throughout the company that employees who work on floor five end up dating each other nine times out of ten. When newcomers Clara and Max arrive for their first day of work, they are all too keen to avoid this trend and the enthusiasm of their boss, who is all too eager to play matchmaker.

Molly Featherston as Clara Ford and Ethan Maxwell as Max Anderson in Floor Five, written and directed by Faith King. Production Photos by Charlie Mattingly and Justin Borak

A romantic comedy for the stage, Floor Five follows two people who are 100% totally not going to fall in love Playwriting and directing have been dreams of mine for years and I was thrilled to be able to bring this show to life with the help of Prof Cathy O’Dell and the WVU LAB Theater program. Often, particularly amid the rise of academic cuts and loss of artistic funding across the country, artists can get bogged down by the pressure of having their work “say something”. Theater is a wonderful tool for change and it is also a wonderful tool for joy. Floor Five was an exercise in joy for me and in return I found that audiences enjoyed themselves as well. Laughter and love really are the best medicine and stories of human connection have a way of connecting us all.

Molly Featherston as Clara Ford, Ethan Maxwell as Max Anderson and Justin Borak as The Boss in Floor Five- written and directed by Faith King. Production Photos by Charlie Mattingly and Justin Borak
Listen to Faith's Introduction and Artist Statement | Watch Floor Five performed at WVU
Faculty Mentor Statement

Grim: Exploring Storytelling Through Dance

A photo of the lead dancer, Chloe Mansheim, from the "Dance Now!" performance of "Grim".

by Sevanna Kisko, School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Yoav Kaddar

Dance Performance, August 27, 2023 – Present


Choreography can be a wordless medium of storytelling, allowing it to transcend language and convey a story to anyone. The combination of music, movement, and narrative has the potential to evoke understanding as well as emotion from audience members.

A photo of several dancers in pantomime positions from the "Dance Now!" performance of "Grim".
"Grim" is a choreography project that seeks to convert the narrative conventions from classic tales into movement, and elicit fear from viewers. The choreography tells the story of a sentient forest, one that imprisons all who enter. Audience members watch as a young girl unknowingly enters the forest, and follow her journey to find an escape. The project draws inspiration from Grimms’ Fairy Tales and the Romantic Movement in ballet history. Study of these sources brought attention to the character archetypes present in whimsical stories: The prince, the naive child, the damsel, and more. These characters are highlighted in the story and portrayed using balletic movement. After each of these archetypes and Fairy Tale influences were established, the horror elements in the project were created by taking what is expected and turning it into something uncomfortable.

A photo of two dancers in shadow from the "Dance Now!" performance of "Grim".
The piece, through movement and facial expressions, explores the theory of “Uncanny Valley”: Portraying the forest as something mimicking human behavior, but not grasping what it means to be human. This choreography was created to emphasize the versatility of dance, the emotions it can elicit, and the stories it can tell.

Los Desaparecidos: Photographing Memory and Violence in Post-Dictatorship Argentina

Undergraduate First Place

by Riley Klug, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Rhonda Reymond; Prof. Megan Leight

Paper/Presentation, August 20, 2023 – Present


Riley (Red) Klug presenting their research project at SECAC, October 2023.

From 1976-1983, the military dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla ravaged Argentina, creating a lengthy period of violence and discontent. Approximately thirty-thousand individuals were lost during this brutal period termed La Dictadura. Those who perished are referred to as Los Desaparecidos, the missing; they embody violence afflicted on citizens by the state. The mothers and grandmothers of the disappeared rose in protest against the Argentine government, forming a human rights coalition in 1977 called Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo. After this prolonged period of violence, much has been done nationally to recover the trust of the masses; however, the trauma of La Dictadura remains in the memory of those who experienced this military dictatorship. Through the artwork of Argentine artists and activists in the 1990’s, including Marcelo Brodsky, Julio Pantoja, and Graciela Sacco, the aftermath of this period of violence was photographed, shedding light on La Dictadura and the continued impact of this dictatorship on generations of Argentine citizens. This paper will discuss the Argentine dictatorship and the artwork from the aftermath of this period as a tool of memorialization, investigating the portrayal of this dictatorship from an art historical perspective.

Accessibility in Stage Management Prompt Books and Strategies for Implementation

Undergraduate Honorable Mention

by Rachel Rock , School of Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Aubrey Sirtautas

Research, Digital Media, Strategies, Implantation for Entertainment Work, October 15, 2022 – Current


Accessibility in Stage Management Prompt Books and Strategies for Implementation

My mentored research for Accessibility in Stage Management Prompt Books and Strategies for Implementation is based on what I have experienced as an entertainment manager and research that is in favor of working with a digital process. This submission will also explain why working on digital formats will benefit upcoming and current managers for any organization wanting to increase their accessibility. A Stage Management Prompt book is the master copy of the script or score for a theatrical, dance, or opera production that contains all the performer movements, technical cues, schedules, show reports, and additional show information that is used by the production stage manager to run both show and technical rehearsals as well as the performances. As prompt books are integral components of any entertainment process, it is important that they contain clear and concise information, and for the most part, have been produced on paper. For myself and other individuals who may experience cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities, may struggle more with hardcopies over digital applications. In order to assist people with different needs in completing successful work, a more digitized process may be implemented. With a combination of adjusting document backgrounds for maximum contrast, using accessibility checkers, using dyslexia-friendly fonts, creating color blindness-friendly themes, improving comfort for physical conditions regarding repetitive motions, posture, and grip strength, and the benefit of easily sharing content. Technology is constantly advancing for the betterment of people; therefore, switching to a digital process will continue to achieve the best results.

Graduate Projects

Mountain State Masterpieces: A West Virginia Coloring Book

Graduate First Place

This image is a sample from the part book collections, transcribed for use in original choral voicing matching the urtexts utilized in this project, as well as eight other editions for various wind and string instruments. This original arrangement of the

by Payton Brown, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Annie McFarland

Coloring Book, December 23, 2023 – February 7, 2024


Mountain State Masterpieces is my fifth self-published coloring book. This book captures West Virginia’s rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Comprised of 80 original hand-drawn illustrations, this book is intended to give people the opportunity to learn more about our state while also embracing their creativity and artistic talents through a relaxing activity. The illustrations contain state symbols, famous West Virginia natives, and iconic locations from each of the 55 counties. As a lifelong West Virginian, artist, and beginning entrepreneur, I made it a goal this year to use my artistic skills to create a tangible product that encourages others to get involved in the arts. My upbringing, heritage, and pride in my state have always been driving forces behind my artwork as well. With these concepts in mind, the idea for a West Virginia coloring book was born. I began by conducting thorough research through internet searches, joining and posting in online community discussion forums, and calling numerous counties’ visitor centers and chamber of commerce offices to help narrow down my ideas for each county’s page in the book.

This is an image of Payton holding the first copy of my coloring book, Mountain State Masterpieces.

After deciding on a notable location or landmark from each county, I found reference photographs from various websites, historical archives, and social media posts. Combining the most visually appealing elements of each image, I used these reference photos to create an original illustration that would showcase the unique aspects of each county and provide enjoyable images for people of all ages to color.

The Wheel: A Cast Iron Sculptural Performance

by Asha Cabaca, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Dylan Collins

Performance, sculpture, February 13, 2023 – November 18, 2023


Video still of The Wheel being performed at the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices at Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, Alabama.

On the closing night of the 2023 National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices (NCCCIAP) held at Sloss Furnaces Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama, I presented The Wheel, a sculptural cast iron performance. This project encapsulated my physical research in the relationship between sculpture and performance. The performance was ephemeral, yet the video and photographic documentation, along with the remaining sculpture are evidence of the action that took place. The theme of the conference was “Shift Change,” reflecting the numerous social, political, and environmental changes taking place. Reflecting on this theme, I created a kinetic sculpture that transformed a hollow log into a flaming wheel that oscillated back and forth on a specially fabricated arched ramp. All parts and preparation were completed in the sculpture studio at the Creative Arts Center utilizing the various equipment in the metal shop. At Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama, I worked with the Performances Coordinator to ensure public safety during the performance. Assisted by the pour team, The Wheel was activated by pouring molten iron into the hollow log and I set it rolling on the ramp, where it revolved back and forth until it came to rest. The heat of the iron caused the log to catch fire, and I quenched it with water because my goal was to preserve evidence of the performance. I exhibited this “post-performance object” at the Height Width Depth Sculpture Exhibition at the Rosewood Arts Center in Kettering, Ohio, where it won best in show.

Listen to Asha's Introduction and Artist Statement | Faculty Mentor Statement

WVU Shape Note: Preservation through Inclusion & Accessibility

Graduate Honorable Mention

by Clayton Heath, School of Music

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Travis Stimeling, Dr. Katelyn Best, Dr. Jennifer Walker

Ethnographic research, Transcription, Music Publishing, Music Education, and Community/Educational Outreach,

August 23, 2023 – April 26, 2024


This graphic, designed and created by Clayton Heath, depicts a hollow square, a cultural artifact of shape-note singing, consisting of multi-color shape-note note heads representing the diversity of participants which comprise the whole. At the center, th

WVU Shape Note is a product of decades-long personal interest in shape-note singing, a commitment to promoting cultural signification of Appalachian and Southern American ethnic identity, and accessible, inclusive educational outreach. I began this research with the intent to familiarize myself with shape-note music practices and to set a transcribed collection of songs into instrumental partbooks. Through faculty mentorship from Dr. Travis Stimeling, Dr. Katelyn Best, and Dr. Jennifer Walker, I was guided in holistically viewing musical cultures through an applied, ethnographic perspective. Through my research, I have connected with local stakeholders who are active members of surrounding shape-note singing communities and have studied the experience of individuals who have also engaged with this community from an etic position. I studied the historical context of the music’s origins and traditions, discovering ethnic relationships that strengthened my understanding of the culture and practices of shape-note singing. By gathering scholarly and emic perspectives, I was able to approach transcription and culturally-relevant pedagogy from an informed position.

This graphic, designed and created by Clayton Heath, depicts a hollow square, a cultural artifact of shape-note singing, consisting of multi-color shape-note note heads representing the diversity of participants which comprise the whole. At the center, th

As a result of this research, I have cultivated associations both within and beyond the walls of the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts. These relationships have been vital in the preparation and distribution of my prepared materials, to include widely accessible transcriptions of forty shape-note songs and an original arrangement, and in promotion of educational outreach events. These events have provided inclusive, internal education for the University, and fostered outward-facing relationships and collaboration with the surrounding region and an international shape-note singing community.

Preparation, Publication, World Premiere Recording: Multicultural works for Colombian Creole and European Musical Instruments

by Jose Fernando Ramirez, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Nina Assimakopoulos

Preparation, Publication, Recording, and performance, December 1, 2019 – March 4, 2024


Picture of one of Jose's performances

My research involves archival investigation, music manuscript typesetting, anthology publication, and world premiere album release/recording of six musical works for Colombian Creole and European musical instruments written by Colombian Creole composers between 1941 and 1951. The works were part of the composer's competitions: "Concurso Música de Colombia" and "Concurso Indulana-Rosellón," an initiative to encourage musical national identity. The competitions produced many works that are currently unknown, most of which were blueprints of Colombian history. The research process included locating musical manuscript scores at the EAFIT University library (Medellín, Colombia), curating and transcribing them into printed musical notation for publication in an anthology and digital album release. To perform and record these works, I recreated the historic Colombian Creole ensemble "Estudiantina," for which this music was written. I directed rehearsals and presented full-length performances of these works with my ensemble, "La Nueva Estudiantina." We recorded the curated work, which will appear on digital streaming platforms. This research culminates in a published and distributed anthology by Editorial EAFIT and a self-published recorded album, which includes music industry elements such as project marketing, branding, concert management, and grant writing to support related events.

Picture of a manuscript - Alma Campesina

The anthology and album, titled "MÚSICA PARA TEJER UNA IDENTIDAD," were completed in 2023 and accepted for publication by "Editorial EAFIT" and will be released in December 2024. The research has a significant impact by creating Colombian Creole music and Latin culture awareness. It enables access, facilitates digital distribution, and contributes to archival documentation of a valuable Colombian heritage.

Listen to Jose's Introduction and Artist Statement | Faculty Mentor Statement | | View Jose's website

Classical saxophone album featuring commissions and arrangements from Mexican composers

by Andres Santana, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Siegfried, Prof. Mark Benincosa

CD Album, August 17, 2023 – September 1, 2024


Andres Santana performing with the West Virginia University Wind Symphony

This project aims to record a new album of musical works by Mexican composers expressly commissioned by and written for me. Most of the research for this album went into finding prominent Mexican composers in the classical community who have written for and/or were eager to write for saxophone. This album will serve as an addition to the growing repertoire coming from Latin American composers. The album will feature five new commissions for saxophone, as well as two arrangements, making this a modern album within the saxophone/classical music community. The compositions and arrangements on the album will feature extended techniques and showcase my own particular technical abilities. Those extended techniques include; slap tongue, singing through the saxophone, mouthpiece playing, multiphonics, flutter tongue, key clicks, and harmonic glissando. Most of the pieces on the album will supplement my saxophone playing with electronics which will further my musical education into what has become normal in modern compositions. Communication with these composers has been an integral part of this project and has shown me how to communicate in another language, manage time with the composers who live abroad, and how to be flexible with our ideas, deadlines, and creativity. Dr. Siegfried and Mark Benincosa have guided me through the project and will continue to give insight through the creative and research process. The composers in this album include; Enrico Chapela, Arturo Fuentes, Javier Torres Maldonado, Ana Lara Zavala, LiliAurora Carillo Madrigal, Jose Francisco Cruz Romero, and Erick Garces Ramirez.

Choir Teacher Agency and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy

by Katie Schramm, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jason B. Gossett

Research Study (Master's Thesis), August 4, 2023 – April 1, 2024


Katie Schramm is a second-year master's student studying music education.

Culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) (Paris, 2012) is an educational framework that nurtures and sustains students’ cultural competencies and identities. Scholars have recognized the need for practices that sustain and nurture cultural identities and ways of knowing music in the music classroom (Abril, 2009; Bond, 2014; Good Perkins, 2018; Salvador & Culp, 2022; Shaw, 2016). Among sustaining practices, repertoire selection has received significant scholarly attention (Bond, 2017), while other aspects, like honoring students’ ways of knowing music, fostering student autonomy, and dismantling oppressive structures of CSP implementation, remain less explored. Understanding how choral music educators implement CSP can inform practitioners and music teacher educators about best practices and potential obstacles (Banks, 2004; Forbes, 2001; Marsh Chase, 2002). The purpose of this study is to examine the structure and agency of choral music educators in implementing culturally sustaining teaching practices. The following research questions guide the study: 1. In what ways do choir teachers implement culturally sustaining teaching practices in the classroom? 2. What structures enable or constrain how choir teachers implement CSP? 3. In what ways do these choir teachers accept, create, modify, or reject structures? Strong Structuration Theory (SST) (Stones, 2005) was used as the framework for this multisite instrumental case study (Stake, 1995). SST was used to outline the relationship between structure and agency. The participants for this study were selected because they were secondary choral teachers who taught in a culturally sustaining manner. Data consisted of classroom observations, semi-structured teacher interviews, and class handouts.

Global Experiences: How Locality and Space Shape Pedagogical Practices between Western and Ghanaian Institutions

by Andrew Simonette , School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Katelyn Best

Thesis, January 8, 2023 – April 26, 2024


Andrew playing gyil in the world music room at WVU

Pedagogical research on African music and dance practices have conventionally focused on ways in which styles and traditions are taught including, but not limited to, modes of transmission, curriculum structure, and cultural responsiveness. These investigations, and subsequent applications, have contributed towards a deeper understanding of pedagogical structures as related to cultural context and effective modes of teaching and learning African music. At the same time, the role that space and locality play within pedagogical practices have been largely overlooked when examining their impact on African music and dance instruction, particularly as related to learning experiences. The study explores the impact that locality and space have on pedagogical practices by examining their influence on Ghanaian music practices as taught within music centers in Ghana and outside of the country as well. Locality and space involve several factors that range from elements attributed to a given location’s soundscape to components of physical structures and social environments. Using traditional ethnographic modes of investigation, this work specifically examines these factors in Ghana at the Bernard Woma Dagara Music Center and the Dagbe Cultural Institute and Arts Center as well as within the United States of America at West Virginia University, which maintains a connection with both centers. Through this investigation, this study considers how locality and space shape pedagogical structures and further contribute to already existing pedagogical research on African music and dance.

Collaborative Project

Dance Intervention for Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders

by Emily Budik & Spencer Miller, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Krestin Radonovich, Dr. Stephen Cain

Dance Therapy Research, August 10, 2022 – Present


Everybody Dance flyer

This study proposes an investigation into the potential benefits of a 12-week dance intervention program for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and cerebral palsy. Collaborating with a specialized dance company and AWeSOME Labs, our research aims to explore the effects of dance on cognitive, motor, and emotional/social functioning in this population. Drawing from existing literature linking dance to improvements in various aspects of pediatric neuropsychology, our research hypothesis posits that participation in structured dance classes may lead to enhancements in motor functioning, subsequently influencing cognitive and emotional/social capabilities. To assess these potential changes, we will employ the use of assessment measures pre and post dance intervention. The AWeSOME Labs' expertise in movement tracking technology will enhance the accuracy of data collection, providing detailed quantitative insights into participants' motor skills and movement changes before and after the intervention period. Collaboration with a specialized dance company ensures a supportive and inclusive environment for participants as well as movements taught specifically to strengthen skills that may be at lower functioning rates within the symptomatology of neurodevelopmental disorders. By employing a multi-disciplinary approach and leveraging collaborative partnerships, this research endeavors to contribute valuable insights into the potential therapeutic benefits of dance intervention for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Ultimately, findings from this study may inform the development of evidence-based interventions to enhance the holistic well-being of this vulnerable population.