For the 40th anniversary of A Day to Give West, the University of West Georgia’s annual fundraising drive, members of the steering committee hope to commemorate the occasion by honoring both the donors and the students who benefit from their generosity.
This year, anyone who contributes $100 or more will receive a watercolor print created by painting student Rachel Christiansen featuring the signage of an entrance to UWG.
“When preparing for the 40th Annual A Day to Give West, we wanted to have a unique incentive that would commemorate this anniversary while also highlighting the group that A Day helps the most: our students,” said Jess Lassetter, UWG’s director of annual giving. “What better way to illustrate the impact of A Day than to have an incentive that showcases the talent that students here at UWG possess.”
Enter Clint Samples ’96, this year’s A Day faculty chair. As a professor of art and associate dean of UWG’s College of Arts, Culture and Scientific Inquiry, he has his finger on the creative pulse of the university.
“I had several ideas to revise the incentive options, but when Jess suggested the art print, it was such a great idea and it made so much sense to do,” Samples said. “On my end, I’ve taught watercolor for years, and my classes have painted landscapes around UWG. We used images from some of these paintings and other student artwork to create customized note cards years ago. So once Jess gave us the idea, I immediately could envision how the process should work, and I knew who to ask first.”
Samples turned to Christiansen, a junior from Moreland, Georgia, who was in his class the previous spring.
“Rachel made an immediate impression on me with her positive spirit, work ethic and tremendous technical skills in watercolor,” he shared. “She also takes feedback well and intuitively ‘gets it.’ I knew I could share the idea with Rachel and she would deliver a solid work of art – and she did.”
Christiansen said she was thankful to be entrusted with the A Day commission.
“Clint is an encouraging teacher who gives us opportunities that challenge us, and the A Day piece is one example,” Christiansen said. “I was able to work with everyone involved and create something they could use. Overall, it was a great opportunity – learning how to communicate with a client to meet their needs and receiving practical experience as an artist.”
In addition to participating in student shows and juried exhibitions, Christiansen also sees this opportunity as another example of how UWG sets her up for a successful career as a children’s book illustrator.
“UWG has given me different experiences with various mediums, allowing me to become more comfortable with them while I learn to use them technically well,” she explained. “I didn’t really like watercolor before I took Clint’s watercolor class and discovered I liked it for illustration purposes. It introduced me to a medium in a way that I hadn’t thought of before.”
A Day will culminate in celebration on Thursday, Oct. 20. To make a gift, please visit the Give West webpage. Anyone who donates $100 or more will receive the watercolor print.
“When you give back through A Day, you are directly supporting current students like Rachel, while at the same time providing for students far into the future,” Lassetter concluded.
Continuing the spirit of philanthropy, Christiansen’s original 16”x20” watercolor will be auctioned off at the 2023 Presidential Gala next March.