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November 22, 2021

Natural Artist


Growing up amid the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Honors student Willow Stevenson ’21 has spent her life cultivating a deep appreciation for nature and the way it inspires her artwork. 

“My work shows viewers the deeply rooted connections between humans and nature as well as the connections between ourselves and others. It is a reminder to delight in and honor the uncapturable details of the world around us.”

Willow Stevenson '21
Environmental Studies and Art double major

“When I’m walking in nature, time itself seems to slow. I feel suspended, focused. I get a similar feeling when I’m creating,” Willow says in her artist statement.

Visit Willow's website to learn more.

In a recent interview, Willow elaborates, “I’ve always been interested in and concerned about the natural world, and I’ve always been creative. And I love making art, but I didn’t think I could actually be an artist. I started taking some classes in Guilford’s Art building and realized, ‘Oh, I need to be here, and I need to be doing this.’”

Community-Focused

The Environmental Studies and Art double major from Asheville chose Guilford because of the positive experience her sister and Bonner Scholar Eliza Stevenson '18 had at the College.

“The Bonner Scholars program is the reason I came to Guilford and was a very influential aspect of my college experience,” Willow says. 

For the service-learning scholarship program, Willow spent one summer working at a community center in Portland, Ore. She spent another summer at an Asheville bookstore, leading an arts and environmental focused summer reading program. 

Soon the mountains were calling her name again — but this time from Peru. Willow spent a semester studying abroad in the Andes Mountains. Her time there involved studying indigenous knowledge and climate change adaptation in the Andes as part of her Environmental Studies major. “The mountains were truly incredible,” she says. 

For her Art major, Willow focused on drawing, but she also does ceramics. Her senior thesis was an installation piece of drawing and ceramics with animation and a digital projection. 

“My work shows viewers the deeply rooted connections between humans and nature as well as the connections between ourselves and others,” she explains. “It is a reminder to delight in and honor the uncapturable details of the world around us.” 

Art-Driven

Now Willow is in Columbia, Mo., working as an artist-in-residence at Access Arts. She teaches classes for adults and children while also working on a landscape inspired installation piece. She hopes to participate in more artist-in-residence programs in the future.

Her Guilford years proved formative and put her on the path to a career as an artist. She notes many professors who helped her along the way, particularly Art Professor Katy Collier.

“Katy led my thesis group and was very influential in my last year at Guilford,” Willow says. “We have the art thesis program in which you have your own studio and you’re working toward the show at the end of the year. That was my sole focus last year, and it was very helpful to have Katy’s support and guidance.”

Willow says she also enjoyed being part of Free Press, a College print shop open house for making rally signs, notes of hope, fliers, stickers, and more. “We would often collaborate with groups or departments on campus,” she says.

Her advice for aspiring artists is to invest time into their work and to not worry about the final outcome or deadlines. “Trust in the process,” she says. “If you’re invested it’ll come out well!”

Are you interested in an art career after your college experience? Learn more about the inspiring and encouraging faculty in the Guilford College Department of Art during your personalized visit to campus. Contact the Office of Admission at admission@guilford.edu or 336.316.2100 to learn more,