West Liberty University senior Sophia Kayafas will graduate on May 10. A fine arts and public relations major, Kayafas will take with her many memories and artwork that she created over her four years on the Hilltop. But she will leave behind one very important reminder of her talent — a 5-by- 6 foot oil portrait of Dr. Clyde D. Campbell.
The painting now hangs in the Campbell Hall of Health Sciences, which will host a formal dedication at 11 a.m., Monday, May 5. Campbell graduated from WLU in 1953 and later served as a chemistry professor and then president of the University from 1984 – 1995.
Kayafas was asked to paint the artwork by Professor Brian Fencl who is chair of the communication and visual arts department. She was thrilled.
“Sophia is an ideal student for a project like this. She has the skills and the drive to take a project of this magnitude to completion. It’s also a chance for her to leave something meaningful behind and make a name for herself. She will become an alum that WLU will be proud of,” said Fencl.
Former WLU Foundation Board member and leader of the first capital campaign, Emmett R. Boyle and wife Debra Boger, commissioned the work and paid for Kayafas’ supplies, including framing, to honor their dear friend Clyde.
Working in oils on linen, Kayafas used a photo of Campbell but also visited him in his home in Clearview and interviewed him to get a feel for his personality.
“I wanted the painting to play into how people perceived him so I needed to understand his personality. Meeting him was one of the best parts of the project,” she said. She learned all about his past, how he first got into science and chemistry and his experience as a professor and later president of West Liberty.
Kayafas did several studies and sketches, while the actual painting took her eight months of work. She is pleased with the result.
“The painting was done to make people aware of this very influential man that helped students have a place to study and learn. I wanted them to see a glimpse of someone special and associate his friendly smile with the name of the building,” said Kayafas.
The result is a relaxed, natural image of Dr. Campbell in his home office, done in warm earth tones. It is very welcoming and greets students and visitors in the main entrance of the new science building which houses the departments of chemistry, dental hygiene, medical laboratory sciences, nursing, speech pathology/audiology and physician assistant studies.
The painting incorporates many personal articles found in Campbell’s office, like chemistry books and a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Prominently placed in the foreground of Kayafas’ work is a large hourglass, full of sand.
Kayafas explained that the hourglass represents the timeless nature of giving.
“His legacy is timeless and so is his generosity. His legacy goes on.”
“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be asked to do this. WLU has taught me so much about my life and work. It’s a blessing to leave something like this behind,” she said. “I’m very thankful, very honored to have this chance.”
The daughter of Gus and Maria Kayafas of Wheeling, she looks forward to participating in the formal dedication of Campbell Hall and greeting Campbell’s family and guests.
After she graduates on May 10, Kayafas will move to New York City sometime in the summer to begin a new career as a student at the New York Academy of Art.
But the Hilltop Campus will always remember her for her talent and beautiful portrait of its former president and friendly leader, Dr. Clyde D. Campbell.