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A&S Magazine Spring 2019

College People: Corrinne James

Undergraduate Artist Takes Her Work Across the Pond

By: Caroline Kettlewell and Lorenzo Perez

College People: Corrinne James

Undergraduate Artist Takes Her Work Across the Pond

Fourth-year student Corrinne James first drew attention for her artwork in preschool. James’ teacher called her mother, but not to rave about a prodigy’s creative skill—rather, to express her worry over James’ obsession with drawing the same girl stick figure, over and over.  

“I guess I obsess about things, especially my drawing,” said James, who forwent opportunities to attend the Pratt Institute and other prestigious art schools to pursue a studio art degree in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. 

Selected for the College’s J. Sanford Miller Family Arts Scholars program along with a small cohort of gifted undergraduate writers and studio and performance artists, James is cultivating a growing reputation as a talented visual artist and animator beyond Grounds. In September, she traveled to London for a screening of her short-animated film, Jealousy, Guilt, and The Sun, which was accepted to the Raindance Film Festival.

The vibrant colors and psychedelic tone that characterize James’ work owe a creative debt to Yellow Submarine, the animated movie inspired by the Beatles’ album, that she says must have made a subconscious impression on her growing up. James says she finds additional inspiration now for her work in College classes she’s taken outside the McIntire Department of Art, such as the Department of Astronomy’s Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe, which inspired her to write a fantastical story about someone who falls in love with a black hole. She also wrote a short film, Black Hole Sweetheart, that she envisions as a combination of live action and animation.

“When I was applying to college, I applied mostly to art schools, but when I got into UVA I thought, ‘You know what? This school is really good. I’m going to go and work really hard like the kids in art school work, but I’m going to have a UVA degree,” she said. 

Lydia Moyer, an associate professor and acting director of the Studio Art program, has had James as a student for three of her classes. From the first class, Moyer said that James stood out for her passion and compulsive need to create art. 

“I think UVA has definitely provided her with a more varied atmosphere than an art school would,” Moyer said. “The studio art program at UVA is deeply committed to the liberal arts tradition. We really push the students to engage creatively in the way that artists engage, but we also challenge them with a broader liberal arts and sciences curriculum to provide a more rounded buildup of their knowledge base.”

Overseen by the Departments of Studio Art, Drama, Music, and Dance, the J. Sanford Miller Family Arts Scholars program provides students increased access to artistic resources at UVA, including to the College’s most distinguished arts faculty. James also has access to research support funds that she has used to bolster her filmwork, purchase a high-end scanner for her hand-drawn animation and cover some of her travel expenses for last fall’s film festival.

“This program is kind of a hidden gem, because if you get accepted, there are so many resources,” she said. “But it’s not only financial support. My professors are incredible artists with their own amazing work who want you to also be a good artist. Working one-on-one all the time with them, and their support has just inspired me to keep working really hard. They’ve shown me that art is something that I need to work and care for.”

A still from Corrinne James' short-animated film, Jealousy, Guilt, and the Sun

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