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College of Creative Arts awards research activity

West Virginia University College of Creative Arts has selected the winners of the College’s annual Faculty/Student Mentored Research Awards.

“With 17 applicants across all the Creative Arts disciplines, our students showcased stunning scholarly and creative research at both the graduate and undergraduate levels,” said Mikylah Myers, assistant dean of student artistic achievement. “This yearly exhibit highlights the behind-the-scenes research mentorship of our world-class faculty, and reinforces the goal of a professional mind-set that we want all of our students to have the moment they set foot in the Canady Creative Arts Center.”

Lauren Zwonik

Lauren Zwonik, a flute performance master’s student in the School of Music, was selected for the graduate first prize for her research, entitled “Building Neurological Processes for Memorization: Mental and Physical Practice Techniques for Martin’s Flute Ballade.” She is mentored by faculty members Nina Assimakopoulos and Lynn Hileman.

In her research, Zwonik states “performing from memory presents a unique challenge to musicians; when the music stand is taken away, the performer must rely on the complete knowledge of the score and task. In order to gain this knowledge, the performer must train the mental and physical components of the task. 

“These two components work together to create neurological processes required to perform a musical composition from memory. These processes include memory encoding, skill acquisition, and stress response regulation. Additionally, performing from memory presents emotional management challenges that the performer must address.”

Zwonik’s research examines practice techniques that address both mental strategies and flute-specific strategies to create a “mental map” of the performance that allows the music to be taken away, including solfege, mental rehearsals, memory maps and performance techniques.

Ceramics by Erin McCarty

Honorable mention for the graduate student award is Erin McCarty, a master’s ceramics student in the School of Art and Design. She is mentored by Ceramics Professor Shoji Satake. Her research is entitled “Accumulation, an Installation of Sculptural Structures.”

Andre Magalhaes, a music composition major in the School of Music, is the undergraduate award winner. Mentored by Assistant Professor Matthew Heap, Magalhaes created “DORIAN: a New Musical.”

The work is a modern musical based on Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray”. 

Photo from "DORIAN: A New Musical"

“In this adaptation of Oscar Wilde's arguably most famous book, I wanted to further explore the themes Wilde wrote in the original text,” Magalhaes said. “How we, as a society, perceive relevancy. Youth is no doubt an important part of the text but it played a slightly different role in Wilde's society at the time he wrote it. Today, the real societal power we reward is money and fame, and that's what I wanted to explore at the forefront of this show.”

In the Fall of 2019, Magalhaes collaborated with the West Virginia University School of Theatre and Dance to produce a staged workshop reading of “DORIAN" in its then current state as part of the University's Discovery Series. Directed by Professor Jeremiah Downes, the production was performed by students in both the School of Theatre and Dance and the School of Music. The musical was performed for two sold-out audiences in the Antoinette Falbo Theatre on November 8 and 9, 2019.

Artwork by Ineke Knudsen

The runner up for the undergraduate research award is Ineke Knudsen, mentored by Coordinator of Drawing Patrick Jones. Her research is entitled “Construction of personal identity within postmodern society.” 

All finalists for the Faculty/Student Mentored Research Awards have their projects displayed virtually at

“As a Research One University, we celebrate high-level research pursuits, from creative activity on the concert stage to the creation of new works on canvas or manuscript paper,” Myers said. “This year our students deftly moved their research from a planned physical display to a new virtual online platform. It has been a joy to both see and hear the 15 finalists' displays, and I encourage the public to take a tour through the online exhibit.”