Big City. Bold Ideas: CoA+A Students in the CLT Community

Friday, July 1, 2022
charlotte skylie

At UNC Charlotte, studies go beyond the university and into Charlotte's creative community.


With bold ideas and broad connections, our talented students and alumni are shaping the civic imagination of this fast-growing, culturally vibrant city and beyond.


See how!

architecture build

After more than a year of work, graduate architecture students taught by Professor Marc Manack completed a magnificent installation at the new Trailhead Arts District in June 2022. ⁠⁠The area at the Sugar Creek LYNX Blue Line Station is being developed by Flywheel Group,  led by School of Architecture alumnus Tony Kuhn. “The project came from the idea that the university should be more visible in the community,” Kuhn said. “As a graduate, I know how great the program is and want to see more interaction and visibility with the community.” Anchoring the Trailhead Arts District are the Charlotte Art League and the new Independent Picture House.

“On a fundamental level, being an architecture student and designing something with a group of people, then seeing it become a reality in the physical world is the greatest thing,” says Nick Sturm, who continued to work on the project after graduating this past May. “It’s a pretty cool thing that we made out there. I think everybody felt the satisfaction of being able to work together in a team to make it happen.” 

student headshot and art work

Art major Sarah Vojnovich is interning in Summer 2022 at The Mint Museum in both the uptown and Randolph locations as an intern for Human Resources and the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. She also has two pieces featured in the Mint Museum's uptown location in the Star Gallery (shown above). As someone who lost her hearing as a child, she is passionate about sharing the importance of accessibility in the arts and why artists with disabilities should be taught in the classroom in the 21st century. "I plan to do the Honors Program for Art History from 2023 to 2024. My thesis will be on the importance of accessibility in the arts and why artists with disabilities should be taught in the classroom in the 21st century (a combination of both Art History and Art Education)."


In the 21-22 school year, architecture student Abena Atiemo was chosen for the first cohort of artists in Project Protégé, a 10-week mentoring program for socially-minded creatives of all disciplines, ages 18-23. As one of five inaugural "Protégés," Abena received $1000 and one-on-one mentoring from UNC Charlotte art alum Jamil Dyair Steele to support the creation of a work that addressed a societal issue in Charlotte. Abena created an immersive installation that addressed an issue that she has been studying for three years: how a city bus stop serves as a symbol that reflects social and economic inequities.

Her “Bus Stop” project, which was installed at Camp North End in the spring of 2022, invited visitors to experience a stop, listen to interviews with real bus riders, hear the sounds of traffic and transit, and – with a set of bus passes available for the taking – even ride a CATS bus. Having completed her undergraduate degree in architecture and entered the M.Arch program, Abena is determined to use her design skills for good. “If the work I do doesn’t help my neighbor, my classmate, or my friend, there is no use in doing it.” 

Congratulations to music alumna Christen Crumpler '21 for starting a full-time job with WDAV as the new RADIO HOST of Sunday Night Music! Though this is a new role for Christen, she first joined WDAV in August 2021 as a Digital Media & Podcast Production Intern. "She has been doing outstanding work at WDAV ever since joining us, particularly as the host of our Power Play podcast," WVAD said.

While in college, Christen had internships with the UNC Charlotte podcast station, Uptown Audio, and the Charlotte Symphony as their Education Intern. "I went to Northwest School of the Arts for high school and majored in Orchestra there. The NWSA Orchestra had partnership programs with the Charlotte Symphony while I was there, so I've actually been on the receiving end of a good number of those programs! It's really interesting to see these programs from a different perspective and contribute to them as I'm able to. It helped me deepen my respect for those programs that I already had," Christen reflects. We are so proud! Be sure to tune in Sundays at 10 pm to hear Christen on the radio!

theatre ed student as theatre camp councilor

Theatre education major Brooke Russo is spending her (fourth!) summer at Camp JuMP, a week-long theatre camp in Charlotte where kids learn choreography and make sets to put on a junior musical. "A couple of weeks ago we had our first week of camp called “Scrapped” where around 30 kids were split up into 4 show snippets including shows like Annie and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown that performed by the end of the week," Brooke explains.

"For “Scrapped,” I served as director for the Oklahoma! segment and an acting counselor for the other shows. Later in July, we will have three, one-week sessions for Frozen Jr. and I’ll be an acting counselor for those too, running scenes, giving notes, and helping teach dance!" she continues.