Several BJU alumni who studied art at the University now create and sell their work in Greenville to share their passion with others. Each of these artists have developed skills and talents to benefit the community.
Paint and Sculpture Art
Doug Young, a 1979 and 2002 graduate, owns Doug Young Studios, his sculpting and painting business. He sculpted Greenville’s well-known “Shoeless Joe Jackson,” his first life-size statue, in 2002. Since he did not have his own studio at the time, he sculpted in the lobby of Greenville City Hall. With the transparency of the space, the public saw a firsthand view of his progress, and Young even allowed children to take part in the experience by letting them put clay onto the sculpture. Today, the statue stands at the entrance of Fluor Field for baseball fans and downtown visitors to see.
One of Young’s other pieces is Della Gillette in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, commissioned by a woman who saw his name on another sculpture. Young’s work is primarily commission based, and commissions may take him over a year to complete.
Young studied art for two years at BJU before switching to another major. He believes his passion for painting and sculpting grew several years post college after he had some time to realize his love for that type of work. “Especially now, I want to have my focus on art and try to get done the things that I have been wanting to do for a long time,” he said.
Chris Hartwick graduated from BJU in 1992 and works for BJU as a graphic designer for Marketing. His fervor for design extends beyond his full-time job as he is also a part of Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville, a co-op art gallery. Along with six other artists, Hartwick uses this space to share his art publicly in the community. His art is available for purchase in the gallery.
Hartwick primarily uses acrylic paint but also designs with watercolor or ballpoint pen. He is known for his rose paintings and also creates design-style artwork. “One of my most famous and favorite pieces is a ladybug painting,” he said. “I did it for a show based on the Psalms, … and it is probably one of the most realistic paintings I have done.”
Though Hartwick loves art now, he explained that it was not his originally intended program of study. He said even though people encouraged him to do art for a while, he took no interest until he realized that God was opening that door for him at BJU.
Hartwick paints with his mouth due to a birth defect that prevented his hands from fully developing, and he acknowledged that the Lord allowed him to adapt in this way. Hartwick has helped with dramatic productions on campus for the past several years — in particular, Living Gallery.
Print and Wood Art
KC Christmas and Vivian Morris, 2015 and 2016 BJU graduates, both run full-time art businesses as well. Christmas describes herself as a painter and collage artist. She uses a sassy style, and combines modern ideas with historical ones. “(My art) is a mix of old and new,” Christmas said. Her seasonal items include calendars and ornaments, and she offers custom designed ornaments of client’s pets. Other than that, Christmas primarily creates themed collections of art.
Christmas said her husband inspired her to delve into art full-time. She primarily sells through Etsy and Instagram since her studio serves as her personal workspace. Christmas sells at fairs and markets between September and December and uses January through August to create her products. Christmas has taken part in a solo exhibition and hopes to continue. As her business has thrived over the past year, she continues to think of ways to expand it.
Vivian Morris specializes in wood printmaking, which she developed a passion for while studying art at BJU. She said one of her teachers, Freda Sue, inspired her to devote the majority of her time to this type of art. After Morris graduated, she and Sue started Utopian Gallery, a wood printmaking studio, in 2017. Morris said the process of her craft involves drawing and carving out a design on wood and using reduction printing to transfer one color at a time to paper. In addition to prints, Morris sells puzzles, T-shirts and needle felting.
Morris appreciates the art education she received at BJU. “The teachers are really inspiring … and they cared about us personally, which makes a big difference,” Morris said. She also views her artwork as unleashing the active imagination she had as a child. Since she had vivid dreams and nightmares, most of her prints involve the creatures Morris saw in her imagination.
Kara Mavar sells jewelry through her business, Karisma by Kara. She handcrafts everything, even the clasps. Mavar said she initially crafted her jewelry from aluminum and copper wire, but she now uses silver more than aluminum, in addition to brass and 14-karat gold wire.
“I enjoy sketching out the designs for the one-of-a-kind, stone pieces I have been working on,” she said. Mavar also likes seeing the final product of her work. “The oxidation (process) darkens the metal (of my jewelry), … and I never get tired of the finished look of that,” she said.
Mavar said her critter collection is inspired by a passion she had while studying art at BJU. “I always wanted to be a children’s book illustrator, so this particular line is fun because (these pieces) are like little illustrations I have turned into metal,” she said.
Christmas, Morris and Mavar will display their art at BJU’s Makers Market on Saturday, Oct. 9.