SPARTANBURG, S.C. – This fall Wofford College senior Margherita Cole will be displaying a collection of hand-drawn comic strips but with a different twist – they all portray scenes from art history. Cole, an art history major and studio art minor from Redlands, Calif., created the exhibit over the summer thanks to support from the Whetsell Fellowship.
The Whetsell Fellowship was established by Dr. William Whetsell in memory of his brother Dan Whetsell in order to annually facilitate a student’s study and creation of art. Each fellowship winner receives funding to work on and create his or her own pieces throughout the summer under the guidance of a professional mentor from the community. To apply for the fellowship, a student does not have to be an art major/minor or even currently enrolled in an art course. All students are encouraged to participate.
Cole, who works as the assistant for the Department of Art History, was encouraged by previous Whetsell Fellow, Sarah Baldwin, and art curator Youmi Efurd to apply for the fellowship.
“I’ve always created art, but I’ve generally been private about it,” says Cole. “ I’ve been drawing comics since I was nine years old and specifically started drawing art history comics in high school.... I showed some work to my Wofford professors who encouraged me to propose my idea.”
Cole was inspired to begin writing and drawing art history comics from her high school AP art history teacher.
“My teacher was the first person to teach artists as actual people rather than as these dead people,” says Cole. “I grew to find their lives really fascinating, and I like to portray that and even make fun of that in my work. I tend to write about either the lonely, isolated artists or really flamboyant and arrogant artists because they are the best material.”
After applying and winning the fellowship, Cole has spent the summer working with the Greenville based artist Jeremy Cody. Cody works in a print shop and taught Cole how to scan in hand-drawn comics and then screen-print them, which is a complex process that can take hours to complete.
Cole’s exhibit is scheduled to hang on Nov. 2. It will remain up through January in the Martha Cloud Chapman Gallery in Wofford's Campus Life Building. The college will host an opening reception on Nov. 5 from 4-6 p.m.. Both the exhibit and the opening reception are free and open to the public.
Cole hopes that viewers can learn a bit about art history through her exhibit, even if they have no prior exposure.
by Kelsey Aylor (Wofford Class of 2018)