Villamagna Scholarship Winner Opens Pop-Up Exhibition

West Liberty University student Lucas Shaver is the first recipient of the Robert Villamagna Jr. Scholarship, named after the deceased son of Professor of Art Robert Villamagna, who retired recently.

Shaver will be debuting a solo art exhibition titled “FTM POV,” which will be held in Room 100 of the Media Arts Center. The pop-up exhibition will run from Tuesday, March 27, through Friday, April 20, with an opening reception and chance to meet the artist set for 3-5 p.m., Tuesday, March 27.

Shaver is a visual communication design major from Vienna, W.Va.

“His conceptual idea for the exhibition was chosen from a pool of candidates applying for the Robert Villamagna Jr. Scholarship, which was open for applications last April and awarded based on the ideas the applicant presented as well as financial need,” explained Associate Professor of Art Martyna Matusiak, who is the scholarship fund manager for the West Liberty University Foundation.

“As part of the requirement for the scholarship, the winner must, in some fashion, give back to the community through their art, which Lucas Shaver chose to do via an exhibition.”

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“Lucas is a visual communications major as well as a transgender man, and his pitch for the scholarship was to create a series of works that tell his personal story of what life is like being transgender. His works are a mixture of digital and traditional, the collection featuring sculptures, paintings and photographic edits,” she added.

As he explains, “The focus of this exhibition is to express to people that being transgender isn’t necessarily always fun and uplifting, but it also isn’t always bleak and miserable, either. It’s a matter of perspective, of seeing both sides of the coin, and making the best of both of them.”

“Room 100 of the Media Arts Center has been rearranged and updated to accommodate the newly welcomed pop-up gallery space in which this exhibition, and hopefully many more, will be held,” Matusiak said.

The Robert Villamagna Jr. Memorial Scholarship is available to WLU Art Education and Visual Communication Design students. Established in memory of Robert Villamagna Jr., who passed away at the age of 28 after a tragic accident, Villamagna Jr. was passionate about art, particularly black and white photography. His father, Robert Villamagna Sr. and Professor William Baronak, a colleague, led the effort to establish this scholarship fund to benefit WLU students who had a similar passion for visual arts.

For more information, contact Matusiak at 304-336-8417 or