Homecoming: Art by Alumni marked the first curated group exhibition featuring Davidson College alumni to appear in the Van Every/Smith Galleries since the opening of the Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Arts Center 25 years ago. In celebration of this significant anniversary, artworks were selected by eight of the many talented artists who graduated between 1993 and 2018, including Ali Fitzgerald ’04. Ali was invited to join us on campus for a variety of programming the week of March 18. Goals included celebrating and highlighting Fitzgerald’s achievements in the area of comics/graphic novels; introduce students to visual storytelling practices; and learn more about Fitzgerald’s work with refugees and thus, highlight the potential for comics, zines, and graphic novels to be used for activism.
During Fitzgerald’s weeklong visit on campus, there were several programs including a lecture during common hour entitled The Aesthetics of Propaganda. Using her own visual essays as a starting point, Fitzgerald discussed the evolving visuals of propaganda in Europe and the U.S. Ali taught a two-day visual storytelling workshop. Approximately 20 students participated in the intensive 6-hour workshop. Students from across majors had the opportunity to interact with Ali during class visits/tours in the Gallery. Courses/faculty who participated in class visits included Ann Fox’s Graphic Medicine, Burkhard Henke’s German 103, Christina Mekonen’s German 351, Katie St. Clair’s Studio Art Junior Capstone, and Maggie McCarthy’s German 102. Students and faculty also had the opportunity interact with Ali informally through shared meals. Additionally, Ali conducted studio visits with three senior art majors. Several weeks after Ali left, the Gallery partnered with Queen City Zine Fest to host more than 50 makers from around NC and SC, displaying and selling their zines and printed matter.
During Ali’s visit to Davidson, she was able to coordinate a book talk/signing at Park Road Books in Charlotte as well as a class visit at UNC-Charlotte. The college gallery also partnered with Queen City Zine Fest on hosting one of their events, which brought in more than 50 artists as well as around 100 guests from around the state. The Zine Fest exposed students to the potential of zines and comics for both storytelling and activism. The event also brought many new people to campus. After the event, held in Lilly Family Gallery, the college gallery hosted a closing reception for the exhibition so that the artists could see Ali’s work.