By Jackie Todd, University Relations
“Can I get some orange?” April Ferguson waived to Katie Imbody, a young student who was dispensing dollops of orange paint from a tube. Ferguson carefully applied the paint on her canvas, her brush strokes almost meticulous as they followed the edges. The administrative assistant in Clemson’s Nursing program traveled to the main campus from her office in Greenville to attend Clemson’s Paint a Tiger Eye and Paw event, where participants gathered to put their artistic skills to work.
Hosted by the President’s Commission on Black Faculty and Staff, the event drew more than 30 participants from all areas of the university. Representatives from each college and from departments such as Human Resources, CCIT, Athletics, Admissions, University Relations and more tapped into their creativity to produce works of art.
Like multiple layers on a canvas, this event also had multiple goals for participants. “I’m hoping they have a great experience in creating a sense of community, awareness, and interaction,” said Rosa Grayden, an administrative coordinator in Sociology, who chairs the Black Faculty and Staff Commission’s Professional Development Committee.
Grayden said that the Committee organized the event after feedback from constituents who wanted to approach professional development in a more creative way.
“We decided to host this event because we wanted to do something fun and interactive,” she said. “We all work all across campus and I’m hoping that all of us build relationships. Because when you know people, that’s when you get things done.”
Six-year-old Taylor was all about getting things done. Taylor accompanied her mom, Natalie Pough, to the event. Pough, a lecturer in the College of Education, said that she appreciated the opportunity to bring her daughter to the event. It gives them time to bond in a creative way. As Taylor went right to work, applying her favorite color (purple) to the canvas, her mom said that while, she, herself is not an artist, Taylor has a strong affinity for painting and art. And what better way to bond her family with the Clemson Family.
“I’m not teaching this summer, so this event was a chance for me to work with faculty and staff in a different way,” said Pough. “And it was a good opportunity for my daughter to become acclimated with faculty and staff who are working together for common goals.”
Natalie and Taylor were not the only mother-daughter team in the house. Katie Imbody, the student who was walking around the classroom refilling paint trays, was helping her mom, Libby, who led the class. While Katie, a sophomore biological sciences major, said she enjoyed meeting the participants, her mom added that the event worked toward process and development in a safe place.
“The session offers a break where they can relax, have fun and have some fellowship, she said. “At first, the painting will not look very good, but as we proceed through, it will layer up and be something that they can be proud of. By proceeding in this way, they learn how to successfully work through stress and trust the process.”