By Brandi Wylie ’24, student intern
Three Wofford College students dedicated the first half of their summer to creating art to inspire and encourage those at the Spartanburg Opportunity Center.
Walker Antonio ’23, Megan Santos ’23 and Kate Timbes ’23 led a project to each create unique murals for the center, a Spartanburg nonprofit that helps people who are homeless by giving them exactly what their name says: opportunity.
This is the third mural opportunity for Timbes, a studio art major from Columbia, South Carolina. The primary aspects of this work include inspiration from a photo of Spartanburg in 1940 as well as a depiction of two hands weaving.
“Weaving is a meditative process, slowing down and looking at the bigger picture, taking it one step at a time,” Timbes says. “We live in a society of high expectations, and America is so fast-paced, so I wanted to transcend that within my imagery.”
Santos, a biology and studio art double major from Concord, North Carolina, used yellow butterflies to invite the SOC’s clients to recognize that what is to come is better than the present situation. Her piece has a personal connection as well, as butterflies always signaled something transformative in her life.
“Butterflies are really special to me because every time that something big happens in my life, I always see a yellow butterfly,” Santos says. “They symbolize strength and fragility as well as a sense of transformation, so I wanted people to believe that they have a sense of that, which they do.”
Antonio, a studio art and history double major from Kilmarnock, Virginia, had a similar idea of transformation in his piece, as evident by the lighthouse that signals the idea of finding home.
His piece, admittedly, is a louder work, which is why he made the switch from the nurse’s station to the laundry room, an area that naturally fosters noise.
Part of this noise includes the cycle of the washers, which he uses within his brushstroke to also represent the cycles of life and how the world is ever-changing, providing hope for a change of the current situation.
The faculty side of this project includes Michael Webster, assistant professor of studio art, and Dr. Youmi Efurd, museum curator.
Webster is using his artistic skills to design and build food service carts to assist both the volunteers and clients, providing a more customized tool for food distribution.
As well as convenience, Webster also hopes that the art will spark emotions and benefit the community on a larger scale.
“One goal is to bring awareness to a new asset to Spartanburg, the Spartanburg Opportunity Center, and hopefully bringing more eyes to the space, getting more volunteers and funding,” Webster says. “The second goal is to create public art that is in coordination with and serves the population that the SOC works with, which is not typically considered as art consumers or appreciators.”
Efurd is a volunteer at the SOC. She wants these pieces to help fellow volunteers to find hope and inspiration within their work.
“This is a transitional place (for the SOC’s clients),” Efurd says. “We want our volunteers to stay longer because (the SOC) is an inspirational place where they see people move forward.”