WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., May 17, 2022 — West Liberty University alumna Rachel Dennison was named an Emerging Artist Fellow for 2022 by the Tamarack Foundation for the Arts recently. Presented to thriving, early-career artists across West Virginia, the fellowship includes a stipend and career opportunities.
Dennison is the third WLU graduate from the College of Liberal and Creative Arts to achieve this honor. A Wetzel County native, from Pine Grove, W.Va., she graduated in the spring of 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Creative Arts Therapy degree. Her website includes a portfolio of her work and is found here.
“I was extremely excited about receiving this award. It was a challenge since so many artists apply. I couldn’t have done it without my teachers at West Liberty critiquing my work and pushing me forward,” Dennison said.
Currently, Dennison works as a non-certified substitute teacher, often with special education students.
“I find that I use my training in therapy from my college degree often with my teaching duties,” she added.
Dennison is looking forward to participating as fully as possible in the Tamarack Fellowship opportunities and duties. She will be busy too, since she must create a body of work for the Emerging Artists Fellowship gallery show that opens on Aug. 19 at the Taylor Annex Gallery (Taylor Books) in Charleston, W.Va.
She credits both her recently deceased grandmother, Jean Reese, and her mother, Karen Fotovich, for nurturing her interest in arts and crafts.
“Both my mother and grandmother were crafty people. My grandmother’s quilts and appliqués always fascinated me as a child,” she explained.
Her work relies heavily on the imagination.
“I tend to focus on the intersection of everyday and surreal. My desire to create pieces that tell a story is one of my biggest motivators. I create each artwork with the hope that viewers can visualize the world in which the subject lives.“When starting a new painting or sculpture, I focus on the setting as much as the subject. Creating rich backgrounds with unique subjects helps me set the cozy, yet thought provoking tone that I strive for. I find that seeing my subjects in their home environments grant the viewer the best insight into my characters’ lives,” she said.
Other alumni who have received a Tamarack Emerging Fellowship include:
- Rosalie Haizlett was one of the original Emerging Fellows in 2016 when the program began. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design in 2016 from WLU. (For more about Haizlett, visit rosaliehaizlett.com)
- Jes Reger was one of the 2020 Emerging Fellows and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in visual arts and creative writing from WLU in 2014. (For more about Reger, visit https://www.facebook.com/jesregerwatercolors.)
Each Fellow will receive technical training, mentoring, consulting, branding and a $2,500 award to assist with the successful development and launch of their creative business. Through increased visibility, marketing and networking, Tamarack Foundation for the Arts hopes to assist each Fellow to integrate into local and regional markets and access professional development.
“What the Tamarack Foundation is doing for the Emerging Fellows is a tremendous opportunity for exposure, financial support and guidance. For these young artists to be able to access the resources, feedback and financial training that the fellowship provides accelerates their career and financial stability,” said Brian Fencl, WLU professor of art. “When Rachel was a student her work and problem solving was always innovative and driven by her personality. It’s exciting to see her recognized for her artistic voice and commitment to making a life as an artist.”
WLU’s Department of Media and Visual Arts includes a variety of programs for students interested in majoring in this field, including: Art Therapy, Art Education, Broadcasting, Communications, Digital Media Design. It also has a master degree program in Art Therapy and Counseling.
For more information, please email Fencl at or call him at 304-336-8433.