Rollins Extends Passion for Art Overseas

by Alex Keys

Senior Shannon Rollins has held an interest in art history for most of her life. As a third-grader, Rollins’ and her family moved to London because of her father’s work, and a year later, her class took a field trip to the Tate Gallery.

“When I came home, I told my mother that ‘Matisse brilliantly used negative space,’ ” Rollins said. “Imagine her surprise to hear that coming out of a 10-year-old’s mouth.”

Through her studies at Transylvania, Rollins’ passion for art has grown into an academic skill. She described the study of art history as “a subject that correlates to many other disciplines: history, sociology, anthropology, religion and philosophy, just to name a few.”

While she feels that most Transy students never consider taking an art history course, she recommends the courses to anyone interested in better understanding ancient or modern cultures.

“I always walk out of an art history class feeling like I’ve learned something new, different and valuable to my own understanding of the subject,” said Rollins.

Studying art history at Transy has opened a variety of experiences for Rollins. As a writer, Rollins feels that all of her professors, especially her adviser Dr. Nancy Wolsk, have pushed her to a level of writing that is appropriate for graduate studies programs.

“Without Transy, I don’t think that I would be fully prepared to take on the massive task of a master’s dissertation,” Rollins said, “let alone the eventual doctoral thesis necessary to work within the field.”

Another crucial experience to Rollins’ education was her semester-long study abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. It was during this program that she decided to pursue a graduate program in art history. Additionally, studying at Edinburgh motivated Rollins to focus more intensely on her academic work upon her return to Lexington.

“I would advise any student who felt that they were just floating through (their) undergraduate (education) without a goal to study abroad sooner rather than later,” said Rollins.

Currently, Rollins has a conditional offer from the master’s studies programs at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leeds.

“Basically, a conditional offer means that my current academic accomplishments have qualified me for a space in the program,” Rollins said, “but my ultimate admission depends upon my final (grade point average). … (The offers keep) me focused on finishing the year as best I can, but at the same time, it’s a bit frustrating to still have it up in the air.”

If she meets the conditions at Edinburgh, Rollins plans on accepting that offer, meaning that she will matriculate in September 2011 to begin the one-year program. Rollins’ advice to Transy students is simple: study abroad, take an art history course and use the Writing Center frequently.

“And, of course,” Rollins said, “take time to notice the colors and images that make up your own culture. You’ll be surprised what you learn!”

If you are curious about art history, come to Haupt Humanities for the SGA Symposium on March 31 at 4:30 p.m., where Rollins will be give her Senior Seminar presentation on “Shipwrecks, Man and Modernity: The Maritime Works of J.M.W. Turner.”


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