Since the pieces are too large to carry back and forth to her residence hall room, high school visual arts senior Corinne Gregson has set up her studio in a corner of one of the large visual art studios in Workplace building. Residential students have curfew, so she can’t work too much into the night, but during thesis time she doesn’t have art classes, which allows time to work on her project for about two hours in the late morning and when her academic classes end at 3:30 p.m.
There are a few more layers to add to the Sea of Galilee piece and then she’ll move the two Empty Tomb pieces from being propped up against a wall to the floor, where she can work. She’ll leave the Road to Damascus piece alone for a bit, before finalizing the pieces with finishing touches.
“Part of the reason why I work large-scale is to create these vast spaces,” Gregson says. “My hope is that you walk up to the piece and there is this immersion.”
During the last week in April each year, high school visual arts seniors display their work. See the Visual Arts Thesis show schedule.
Corinne Gregson lives for the moment – a place in her canvas where stroke and color are just right. With her high school Visual Arts Thesis Exhibit quickly approaching, she is layering oil paints on four large canvases. Her paintings are rich in color as she emphasizes the lights and shadows. She thins her paints with a thinning solution and brushes the canvas to create moments.
It’s interesting to have moments where there are probably hundreds and hundreds of layers and then a moment that may be only one layer.Corrine Gregson
“I work in very thin layers and these are oil paints, so what that means is it takes a thousand years to finish one,” Gregson says. “I’m working on all of these pieces at the same time, but moments that happen at the beginning of the process will still be visible in the final product. It’s interesting to have moments where there are probably hundreds and hundreds of layers and then a moment that may be only one layer.”
Gregson is from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, which is about 15 minutes from the state capital of Raleigh. Gregson became more interested in abstraction as she studied Art History, a requirement for high school Visual Art students at UNCSA. Growing up Methodist, she was drawn to Baroque-style paintings because of their religious subjects.
“Something I found that conflicted with me about the (Baroque) paintings was that the main focus was on the people and figures,” she says. “The saints and figures were nothing that I placed importance on in my own faith and religion. My work is more about the significance of the stories and what happened at these places.”
Her pieces are about Biblical spaces: the Sea of Galilee, the Road to Damascus and a diptych (a two-canvas painting) about the empty tomb. Following graduation, Gregson will be attending the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where she plans to study not only art, but humanities and religion.
The Visual Arts Program, is a two-year program for high school juniors and seniors and is part of UNCSA's School of Design & Production, which offers undergraduate and graduate programs. Gregson is one of several visual artists to take top honors at the Scholastic Art regional competition this year.
Like other juniors, Gregson says she watched the senior visual arts students prepare for their thesis. It is something the students always have in front of mind. For her own thesis, she thought about doing drawings or photography. She hadn’t explored much abstraction before Intensive Arts last fall. Intensive Arts is a time following academic exams when high school students focus solely on doing their art for two weeks.
It took Intensives (Arts), where I just kind of threw things in the air and let things that were going to happen, happen, to find I really like working in abstraction.Corrine Gregson
“I hadn’t considered doing oil because I hadn’t worked with it before and I had to work with it a bit before I decided I really liked it,” Gregson says. “It took Intensives (Arts), where I just kind of threw things in the air and let things that were going to happen, happen, to find I really like working in abstraction. It is a completely different process of working, but it allows a lot of room for change.”
Visual Art teacher Elizabeth Alexander says, “Corrine has been tackling abstract painting this year with some really strong, layered pieces. She has a very experimental approach and works incredibly hard.”
Gregson doesn’t have a favorite piece in her exhibit, but rather she likes the unplanned moments in the pieces.
“I keep a lot of those moments later on and don’t cover them up,” she says. “Those are definitely some of my favorite moments.”
Not everything is easy, she cautions.
I love painting, so any struggle that comes with painting, I don’t hate it. I can work through it.Corrine Gregson
“There is always the struggle of problem solving when something doesn’t look right,” says Gregson. “You already have all these layers down and just a week and a half left (to prepare the piece). How am I going to fix this? I love painting, so any struggle that comes with painting, I don’t hate it. I can work through it.”
April 24, 2017