Whitney Hale


College: Fine Arts

UK Faculty Talents Showcased in China

Published: Dec 21, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 21, 2012) — This fall the talents of two faculty from the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts were in the spotlight halfway around the world in China. Associate Professor of Ceramics and Sculpture Bobby Scroggins exhibited and worked on his art during a residency at Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute, while UK Endowed Chair in Music Cynthia Lawrence took to the stage in "Madame Butterfly" at the Guangzhou Art Festival.


This September and October, Scroggins served as a visiting artist at the Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute in Jingdezhen, Peoples’ Republic of China, during the Jingdezhen International Ceramics festival, an event that attracted ceramic artists from all over the world.


"During my trip to Jingdezhen, I tried to become immersed in a culture that still celebrates the makers of things and honors the hand-made ceramic object," Scroggins said. "I observed their systems of manufacture. I also got a feel for their work ethic and value system with regards to making ceramic art. I used my time in their studios, refining and sharing my skills and insights as an artist/traveler." 


While abroad, Scroggins created a new body of sculptures and pottery that was on display during the solo exhibition "Fertility of Urns" presented Oct. 23-Nov. 19, at Sanbao International Ceramic Museum. During his tour, Scroggins also served as a visiting artist at Shanghai University, UK's Confucius Institute sister school, and delivered a lecture titled "Discovery and Application Through Ceramics, Sculpture, and Mixed Media" as part of the Pottery Workshop Friday Lecture Series in Jingdezhen.


Scroggins believes the sabbatical in China was a necessity as an artist, who must pursue new experiences to advance skills. "Those of us whose creativity has not been irreparably damaged by the winds of the world are truly blessed. Therefore we are obligated to ourselves and to the universe to become involved in life-long pursuits involving creativity.” 


Since arriving at the UK Department of Art (now UK School of Art and Visual Studies) in 1990, Scroggins has exhibited his own work, curated national exhibitions, conducted workshops and given lectures throughout the United States and in parts of Europe. He has served as director-at-large for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. The artist has also been on the faculty of the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts since 1999, and was a founding faculty member of the North West Academy of Arts in Derry, Ireland. 


The residency in China was made possible by grants from the 2012 Lighton International Artists Exchange Fellowship awarded by the Kansas City Artists Coalition, and the Jim Leedy/Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute visiting artists fellowship.


Scroggins hopes to share his experiences in China with not only his UK students, but other youth groups in the near future. "I would like to conduct some art exhibits, demonstration workshops, and lectures in hopes of inspiring some of our young people to pursue art and turn away from lifestyles that would lead to their detriment."


A graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, Scroggins completed his graduate studies at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. An artist for more than 40 years, he has been the recipient of several awards and commissions and was most recently awarded the Thomas Mueller Award for his sculpture "Family" presented as part of the 18th Annual National African American Art Competition in Louisville. Scroggins is a native of Kansas City, Mo. 


The same month and approximately 625 miles southwest of Scroggins, lyric soprano Lawrence was starring as the lead in "Madame Butterfly" on the Guangzhou Opera House stage as part of the Guangzhou Art Festival in Guangzhou. The popular opera served as the festival's grand opening event.


Lawrence sang the role of the Giacomo Puccini opera's tragic heroine with fellow soprano Hui He. Co-produced and staged by the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the English National Opera, and the Lithuanian National Opera, the festival production also featured the work of Oscar-winner Anthony Minghella, who served as director; conductor Daniel Oren; tenor Adam Diegel; and baritone Vytautas Juozapaitis.


The Guangzhou Arts Festival is held with the purpose of building a stage for art exhibition and leading Chinese culture to go abroad. It is also committed to build a first-class brand with sustainable development for China's performing arts fair, stimulate the development of China's stage performance industry and cultivate the culture market so as to realize the mutual prosperity of both the culture course and the culture industry.


Since 2009, Lawrence has served as faculty member of UK Opera Theatre and chair of the vocal area in the UK School of Music. Hailed as one of America’s most exciting singing actresses, she is a regular guest of leading opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera; The Royal Albert Hall, London; the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin; New Israeli Opera; Opera Pacific; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Opera Ontario; New York City Opera; Opera Memphis; and many more.


Recently Lawrence sang Santuzza in "Cavalleria Rusticana" with the National Symphony of Santo Domingo in a celebration concert under the baton of Maestro Antonio Molina as well as singing Tosca at Opera North Carolina and with Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera. She has appeared in the Alltech Celebration of Song, and was a featured soloist in the World Equestrian Games which was held in Lexington and broadcast worldwide in 2010. Lawrence sang "Lady Macbeth" at the Palacio Das Artes, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and was featured in the 75th Anniversary Gala of Florentine Opera in Milwaukee. Additionally, she is a selected soloist and speaker in the DVD "A Tribute to Pavarotti: One Amazing Weekend in Petra." Lawrence appeared more than 70 times in concert with Luciano Pavarotti, touring such countries as Qatar, Italy, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Germany, Norway, Japan, China, Malaysia, England, Canada, South Africa and the U.S.


Her roles include her acclaimed turn as Tosca in "Tosca"; Amelia in "Un Ballo in Maschera"; Roxanne in "Cyrano de Bergerac"; Dolly in "Sly"; Cio-Cio-San in "Madama Butterfly"; Rosalinda in "Die Fledermaus"; Lavinia in "Mourning Becomes Electra"; Elettra in "Idomeneo"; Vitellia in "La Clemenza di Tito"; Musetta and Mimi in "La Boheme"; Micaela in "Carmen"; The First Lady in "The Magic Flute"; Fiordiligi in "Cosi fan Tutte"; Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s "Macbeth"; Die Frauin Schoenberg’s "Von Heute auf Morgen"; Countess in "Le Nozze di Figaro"; Liu, Marguerite and Countess Olga in "Fedora"; and The Italian Singer in Strauss’s "Capriccio." 


In addition to performing in China this fall, Lawrence has also performed at a gala celebration of the opening of the Charles and Reta Ralph Opera Center in Colorado, as well as Britten’s War Requiem with the Louisville Choral Arts Society here in Kentucky.


Lawrence, who also maintains a private studio, is a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and enjoys conducting master classes for singers, performers and colleges. 



MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or whitney.hale@uky.edu

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