New year notions: Local artists look ahead at 2016

Photographer Keith Alan Sprouse has been documenting the performers’ daily routine at Charlottesville Ballet and will be showing his images in 2016. Photo: Courtesy the artist Photographer Keith Alan Sprouse has been documenting the performers’ daily routine at Charlottesville Ballet and will be showing his images in 2016. Photo: Courtesy the artist

Ah, the new year. That time when thoughts turn to starry-eyed dreams, impossibly slim waistlines and the vague notion that if we could just pull away our bad habits like Clark Kent’s suit jacket, we’d find Super(wo)man underneath.

After two years interviewing local artists (and 31 years living as one), I can officially say that a creative’s quest for personal betterment never ends.

When you inhabit the brain of an artist, every day is January 1. Improvement is your first and only resolution. No choreography is ever really finished. No painting is complete. And writing, well, trust me on this one—you can fuss with one sentence for the rest of your life.

But we do it because we’re human, hungry and ever-striving. We’re committed to creation, which means work without an endgame. And we’re trained to follow our preternatural impulses, to pin down from the ether ideas and evocations that might just transform the world.

Curious to know what the artistic impulse has in store for Charlottesville this bright new year? Here’s your sneak peek into a few locals’ plans for 2016.

Stace Carter

Documentary Filmmaker

“Along with a long-term project at the Ryan White HIV clinic, I’ve been working with the Contemplative Sciences Center at UVA on producing a doc in Bhutan, which I’m particularly excited about. I’ll be launching an iTunesU course on digital storytelling for high school students, based on this year’s work, in early 2016.

“While my residency [at Shenandoah National Park] has ended, the project has become quite personal to me. I’ve only filmed there for two seasons, so capturing winter and spring will be a great opportunity to show the seasonal cycle and beauty of the place.

“When FDR dedicated Shenandoah in 1936 he did so ‘for the recreation and for the re-creation which we shall find here.’ I witnessed dozens of visitors who found this re-creation, and I think the more we can spread this message of re-creation, kindness and solidarity, the better off we’ll be as a society.”

Clay Witt


“In the first part of the year I am working on several commissions, and then I am in a group show at Page Bond’s Gallery in RVA in May. That and a month-old baby boy should keep me busy.”

Amanda Wren Wagstaff

Mixed Media Artist

“For me, 2016 will be a year split between Ireland and Virginia. I’m currently living in Dublin as a Fulbright Research Fellow. My work here is building on foundations I set last year during my New City Arts residency in Charlottesville. I’m researching medieval Irish monastic practices, specifically the preservation and interpretation of knowledge through manuscript transcription and the practice of spiritual pilgrimage. I’ve also been focusing more on textile history and craft, and the parallel practical and spiritual aspects of textile objects. I’m currently working on two new projects that combine spinning, sewing, writing and found/scrounged materials.

“In June, I will return to Charlottesville with all the physical and intellectual baggage of this research trip. My time here in Ireland has made me realize how attached I am to Virginia, and I hope to continue my research to find ways to connect my work to the local history and material culture of my home state.”

Keith Alan Sprouse


“For 2016, I’ll be focusing on two projects. First off, I’ll be preparing and showing images from my work with Charlottesville Ballet. I’ve been photographing them over the past couple of years, capturing both the hard work they put in day in and day out behind the scenes and the amazing public performances that result. Second, I’m in the planning stages of my second documentary project in collaboration with The Bridge PAI, which I’ll be working on this spring and summer, and showing at the Bridge this fall.”

Lily Erb


“In 2016, I hope to create a new series of small angular sculptures, make large outdoor pieces and experiment with new materials.”

Michael Fitts


“I will be working on the largest and most challenging show that I’ve ever done. This show, tentatively titled ‘Grid,’ will consist of 60 pieces arranged in various grid formations. The grid approach gives me the opportunity to explore variations in scale and repetition, which have historically been staples in pop art. Haley Fine Art in Sperryville, Virginia, will host the show in October.”

Cary Oliva

Mixed Media Artist

“My hope is to continue working with image transfers and lifts but to evolve my technique by using more Fuji instant film and creating more mixed media pieces using encaustic. I believe this is an important aspect of creating, experimenting and learning how to be creative within your own creative discipline. I see this practice helping me become a more flexible person, which on a larger scale hopefully helps me be a better human in this ever-changing world.”

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