York College graduate Anya Felch has year of growth as Appell Fellow

Featured photo: Anya Felch is shown in her Marketview Arts studio.

By Brie Dadich

In a quiet studio in Marketview Arts, two intricately designed cutouts of the number 22 hang next to a handwritten scrap that reads “22- What the hell do I do?”

Under these signs sits the now 23-year-old Anya Felch, the recipient of the 2015-2016 Appell Fellowship from York College.

Felch said her time as the Appell Fellow has brought personal growth.  A 2015 graduate of York College, Felch boasts degrees in both graphic design and fine art as well as a minor in art history. She was named the Appell Fellow during the closing art show of last year’s fellow, Dillon Samuelson.

“Anya has already proven she is a skilled artist through her time in school, and now with the time and resources offered by the Appell Fellowship.  I am sure she will only continue to impress,” said Samuelson.

This is the fourth year of York College’s Appell Fellowship, which is open to any fine art graduate of York College.  The year-long residency provides housing above Marketview Arts in downtown York, as well as parking, studio space and a stipend for the year.

The fellowship is funded by local philanthropist Louis Appell, who was assisted in creating the fellowship by Ry Fryar, York College’s art division coordinator, and Dean Dominic DelliCarpini.

As the Appell Fellow, Felch is in charge of maintaining the student studios in Marketview Arts, as well as hosting the figure drawing classes the center holds.  She holds certain hours for personal artwork, as well as separate hours meant for community-based events and networking with the public.

While attending York, Felch made a name for herself early on. Boasting awards such as first place for a 2014 juried art show, as well as winning first place in the Fine Art Senior Exhibition, the Maryland native still credits graduating college as a big accomplishment.

“It’s difficult being out of school now, because you’re not really surrounded by other artists,” she said. “I miss the constant flow of creative energy.”

Her individual studio at Marketview, however, seems to have her own sense of creative energy.  The studio is filled with works in progress and various art supplies.  One entire wall is engulfed by 300 small cards, each letter pressed with a single letter “A.”  Felch said she began this her first month as the fellow.

“I had a really bad creative block. I came in and all the walls were plain, and I was losing it,” said Felch.  “I gave myself something to start off with.”

Felch’s only rules for herself for “300 Ways to Alter an A” are that manipulations to the cards must be in red, and the “A” must stay on the sheet.  Among the cards are ones manipulated with red embroidery, puffy paint and spray paint.

“It’s fun because I don’t have to overthink it,” she said.

Felch is working on many projects, including papercuts and typography-based works.  Though she is still working on an idea for her end-of-the-year show, she credits a lot of her work to having a balance between traditional art forms.  She characterizes her style as finding ways to juxtapose tradition with modern techniques of manipulation until she finds a balance between the two.

“Unlike previous fellows who largely continued to develop the body of work they’d been pursuing when they graduated, Anya is looking for a whole new direction. It’s an exciting and worthwhile challenge, but a difficult one and she is metaphorically in the woods right now,” said Matthew Clay-Robison, the York College gallery director.

Felch said her time as the fellow has been about self-exploration and reflecting on what she would like out of her career.

“It’s more challenging because I’m questioning a lot of things I wasn’t expecting to. It’s become a way more personal time than I was expecting it to be, but it’s pretty exciting,” she says.

Felch reflected on her role as the fellow immersed in downtown York as a chance to get to know a lot of great people both from the York area as well as the fine art and graphic design students that come to Marketview Arts.

Felch said she is unsure of what the future holds after the fellowship ends in June 2016, but one thing she is sure of is owning a dog.

“It’s a life goal for me right now,” said Felch, who plans to get a job so that she can get a dog after the fellowship ends.

“It’s so silly, but it’s the one thing that I know I really want,” she said, laughing.

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