PVCC Announces Beryl Solla Scholarship Fund and Memorial Exhibition

Charlottesville, Va. – April 19, 2021 – The Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) Division of Humanities, Fine Arts and Social Sciences is celebrating the life and legacy of Art Professor, Gallery Director, and Visual and Performing Arts Chair Beryl Solla with two new programs that honor her passion for connecting the community with arts and education. Conceived of by friends and colleagues after Solla passed away February 19, 2021, the “Beryl Solla Scholarship Fund” and the memorial exhibition “Solla World: The Hailing and Wailing Wall for Beryl” are opportunities for those who were touched by the artist and educator’s life and work to share artworks and memories in homage and take action to ensure that Solla’s positive impact continues.

A teacher who believed in the power of art to change lives and minds, the “Beryl Solla Scholarship Fund” honors Solla’s commitment to supporting students as they pursue their artistic and educational goals. One or more deserving student artists will receive financial assistance through annual scholarships of $500 each. Donations are being collected now at www.pvcc.edu/berylsollascholarship with the goal of implementing the first award in the fall of 2021.

Currently in place in the PVCC North Gallery, “Solla World” is a participatory exhibition that invites visitors to post poetry, quotes, photos, artwork or a memorial of their choice to “The Hailing and Wailing Wall for Beryl,” a display panel that spans the length of the gallery. Works made at home to share and add to the emerging collage are encouraged as the safest option due to COVID. For those who wish to create onsite, materials are available at nearby “make-it stations” in the form of brightly colored paper cut-outs of flowers and birds, both commonly seen in Solla’s artworks.

Nearby, note cards and a dropbox collect memories and messages for Solla’s family, and artworks depicting Solla by artists Ashtin Bowman, Rose Guterbock and Rama Hughes hang. A table offers a place to leave flowers, an apt tribute to Solla given her love of gardening and bold colors.

“Solla World–” explained husband, James Yates, “That’s what Beryl called her many flower gardens that she lovingly tended over the years. She said gardening was her spiritual practice.”  

Motifs related to that cherished practice became a central theme in Solla’s unique artistic footprint, with sequined pink lilies, abundant red roses, joyful leaping bunnies, and color galore emerging as favorite themes in her hand-sewn pieces, ceramics, and sculptures. Under her direction, the walls of PVCC’s art department became blanketed with student artwork and were painted in bright pink, orange, and other vibrant colors–a stark and playful contrast to other spaces in the college.

In her more than 15 years at PVCC, Solla revitalized the college’s art program, implementing several new arts initiatives that connect not only students to vital arts experiences, but the larger community as well. Some of the best known include the annual light-based art exhibition “Let There Be Light,” the “Seventh Annual Chocolate Chow Down” art opening (perpetually the “Seventh” as Solla’s inside joke), the popular “Free Movie Friday” series, and “Arts Day,” an annual event welcoming high school students into the college’s art-making spaces for a day.

Solla was awarded the 2013 PVCC Distinguished Service Award for her contributions to the college and received the 2015 Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, an honor that goes to only one teaching faculty member in the Virginia Community College System each year.

A nationally recognized mosaic artist, her works may be seen locally, largely in the form of colorful florals, at Belmont Park, IX Art Park, McGuffey Park, and various private homes around town. Among numerous public art commissions, Solla has several large-scale installations in place with major projects in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.

The exhibition is open to visitors Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., until Saturday, May 22, 2021. The North Gallery at PVCC is located on the 3rd floor of the V. Earl Dickinson Building at the south end of 501 College Drive. Ample free parking is located in front of the building.

Visitors to the PVCC campus are required to wear masks at all times and social distancing regulations should be followed.

For additional information about the Beryl Solla Scholarship Fund, please contact the PVCC Office of Development at (434) 961-5226 or development@pvcc.edu. For more information about Solla World: The Hailing and Wailing Wall for Beryl, contact curator Fenella Belle at fbelle@pvcc.edu or 434.218.2644.

About Piedmont Virginia Community College
Established in 1972, Piedmont Virginia Community College is a nonresidential two-year institution of higher education that serves Central Virginia – principally, residents of the City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. PVCC is one of 23 community colleges in Virginia that comprise the Virginia Community College System. PVCC is committed to providing access to a college education for all who can benefit, an opportunity for each student to reach her/his potential and excellence in all programs and services. Visit www.pvcc.edu.

Susian Brooks
Director, Marketing and Media Relations
434.961.6574 | sbrooks@pvcc.edu

Artwork entitled “Beryl,” by student Ashtin Bowman




Humanities, Fine Arts and Social Sciences Division