University City

UNC Charlotte hosts alumni art exhibition

Many of Alexandra Giannell’s works are made of a series of short and small markings.
Many of Alexandra Giannell’s works are made of a series of short and small markings. COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA GIANNELL

Look closely at Alexandra Giannell’s large, charcoal drawings, and you’ll notice they’re actually created by hundreds of tiny graphite markings.

That’s intentional. Giannell uses small strokes to set a controlled perimeter to work in. It’s how she likes it, and it’s an important part of her ritual as an artist and as a human being.

“I look at ritual as a mode of getting from one place to another,” said Giannell. “It’s a series of events building up.”

Patrons can learn more about Giannell’s work when it appears alongside five other artists in “Verve: The 2015 Alumni Biennial Exhibition” at Rowe Galleries on the university’s main campus. The free exhibition, sponsored by the UNC Charlotte Department of Art & Art History, is open to the public and runs through Sept. 25.

Giannell’s life can also be seen as a series of small markings connected to create the big picture. She attended UNCC, earning her bachelor of fine arts in painting. She finished her master of fine arts degree at Clemson University.

But her latest mark reconnects her with UNCC, this time as an adjunct professor teaching the painting classes she once attended.

“It’s really wonderful returning to an environment that’s really nurturing,” said Giannell, 29. “I appreciate the familiarity.”

Giannell’s time as a student at UNCC helped her hone her craft. Her work’s focus on ritual stems from a childhood curiosity about people’s fascination with the afterlife. Since she was young, she has wondered what draws the majority of humans to spend so much time pondering what happens after they die. Most do so through religion, she said, and by attaching themselves to it through rituals.

“I was drawn into ritual – why people choose to believe and the modes in which they undergo that belief,” she said.

Other artists whose work will appear in the exhibition:

Brandon Boan: Boan’s work relies on the concepts of space, sound, and light, and has appeared in Italy, Russia, Brazil, Sweden and the United States.

Bradlee Hicks: Hicks studied photography and ceramics at UNC Charlotte. Now a content strategist for Earth Fare, he fuses fine art and advertising in video vignettes that explore mass cultural consumption.

Zipporah Camille Thompson: As a textile artist, Thompson’s installations use fur, thread, fabric and twigs to communicate through her pieces.

Antoine Williams: Williams’ paintings focus on race and class in rural settings, and are influenced by science fiction and hip-hop.

Ashley York: A ceramic sculptor whose tools include CNC milling and 3D printer technology, York uses images from nature to design metaphysical landscapes in clay.

Lisa Thornton is a freelance writer:

Want to go?

“Verve: The 2015 Alumni Biennial Exhibition” will be held Sept. 1-25. An opening reception will be 5-7 p.m. Sept. 1 at Rowe Galleries, 9201 University Blvd., Charlotte. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Admission is free. For information, go to or