Cumberland University


Amanda Ashburn: Conserving Art Past and Present


To Amanda Ashburn, art may be at its best when it reflects a historical legacy. Studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Entertainment Design at Cumberland University, the junior student hopes to put her creativity to use to preserve aging artwork for future generations.

Such art can be the key to understanding not only the present, but the past, according to Ashburn.

“There is so much that we can learn from historic artwork,” Ashburn said. “Sometimes all that we have left of civilizations is their artwork, and it says so much about what made their people unique. I want to help conserve that artwork.” 

Ashburn began her journey towards that goal at Cumberland in the fall of 2010, choosing the University after speaking with Ted Rose, Dean of the School of Music and the Arts. The meeting was transformative for Ashburn.

“I realized that I really could go to college, and that was how I ended up here,” Ashburn said. “It was a wonderful thing.”

The Fentress County native quickly began to flourish at Cumberland, winning a FOCUS student award for her artwork and earning a place on the Collegiate Advisory Board of the Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville. At Cumberland, Ashburn has discovered not only her own strengths, but a variety of new media. Initially specializing in Painting, Ashburn changed her emphasis to Entertainment Design in late 2012 after “falling in love with graphic design” through her coursework and an internship.

“I’ve become very interested in typography and photography,” Ashburn said. “There are so many techniques and effects that you can employ with a computer.”

Ashburn has also honed her professional skills at Cumberland. Through working in Cumberland’s Adams Gallery and participating in student art shows, Ashburn has gained a firsthand sense of how galleries and exhibitions operate—a skill she hopes to employ as an art preservationist working with museums. In courses such as Issues in Contemporary Arts, Ashburn has also sharpened her understanding of art history and interpretation.

“That class allowed me to shine an entirely new light on other people’s artwork,” Ashburn said. “Sometimes you have to dig deeper to find out what art really means.”

That deeper meaning is something that Ashburn wishes to bring to new generations through art conservation. Now looking forward to graduate school, Ashburn feels confident that she will have what it takes to take the next step towards her future as a student and as a person.

 “Cumberland has definitely prepared me for the future,” Ashburn said. “I’ve grown up a great deal here, and I’m more comfortable with who I am now. I know that I can succeed in graduate school, wherever I might go.”