Amber Corvin

Amber Corvin finds her passion at Lees-McRae

When Amber Corvin came to Lees-McRae from her hometown of Chilhowie, Virginia, she expected to earn a degree in Biology. After all, she'd been told that studying the hard sciences was the only way to have a successful career.  

“When I was in high school, everyone wanted you to be a doctor or a nurse,” Corvin said. “But for me, nothing was making me happy.”  

Her first year at Lees-McRae, Corvin took an art class, and immediately realized it was what she wanted to pursue. With help from the Office of Career and Life Planning and the Communication Arts and Design faculty, Corvin crafted a degree plan that let her do what she loved while preparing for a career that would benefit others. 

Next fall, Corvin will be attending the University of Louisville in Kentucky to start a master’s degree program for Art Therapy. She decided on art therapy her sophomore year after talking to Laura Pell, the former director of career services. Art therapy combines Corvin’s love of art with her interest in education and helping others, especially since art has helped Corvin work through her own difficulties.  

Corvin’s main art medium is photography. Her photos and videos have given her a method for digging into her past and grappling with pain. For her senior project, she wanted to explore women’s motives for covering their bodies, whether it came from insecurity, family expectation, or societal pressure. 

“I started experimenting with wrapping parts of the body in different materials, including some of the materials that I used to wear to church,” she said. “I made it look like I was ripping out of the materials I had to wear, so I was challenging the idea of why women cover up.” 

The project also included a video of a performance art piece featuring a woman trying to walk normally with her legs tightly bound. Much of Corvin’s work has the feel of performance art, which she finds helps her better convey her message.  

“It’s really hard to dig into your past,” said Corvin. “You’re very vulnerable, and I was very vulnerable in all that work. I think that’s something that helped make my project very strong.”  

Corvin and her classmate and friend, Jessie Greene, won first place in the juried student art show for a video addressing a similar theme. In “Wrapping,” Greene and Corvin slowly covered their subjects in wrapping paper, extra clothing, or cardboard boxes while a voice-over narration told stories of women being made to feel ashamed of their bodies.    

After spending four years in college learning how to use art to heal, Corvin plans to help others in the same way.  

“For me growing up, I didn’t really have an outlet or anyone I could go and talk to,” she said. “I want to be that person for kids or adults who don’t have anyone to talk to.”  

The University of Louisville was one of the first colleges with an accredited art therapy program. As part of the curriculum, the institution reaches out to local communities.  

“That’s something I want to bring home,” Corvin said. 

Right now, Corvin is leaning toward working with adolescents, since that’s the stage where she would have benefited the most.   

Outside of the classroom, Corvin played on the Lees-McRae softball team throughout college. She chose Lees-McRae partly because she would be able to play all four years and not have it conflict with her academics. The team won the Conference Carolinas championship in 2019, which was a highlight of her career.  

One of Corvin’s favorite activities during her time at Lees-McRae was participating each year in the Mountain Day of Service. The softball team always volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.  

As Corvin prepares to move to a bigger city and begin the next phase of her educational journey, she wants other students to know their path doesn’t have to be what they planned in high school.  

“The art field has a lot of opportunities and is not tailored to just one thing,” she said. “Be open-minded and you will be surprised where your creative side takes you!” 

Explore Amber's artistic work

By Emily WebbMay 14, 2021