Georgia College Front Page

Under 30: Emily Kearney Williams

Age: 23

Occupation: Artist

Major at GC: Studio Art with minor in Business Administration


Why did you choose Georgia College?


I chose Georgia College for a number of reasons. It’s small enough that I wouldn’t feel like a number - and I never did. It has a stunningly gorgeous campus, and it was far enough away from Savannah that I could feel independent without being too far from home. It also would provide the liberal arts education I was hoping for in a college.

In truth, I wasn’t entirely sure where I wanted to go to college at all. But, I do remember that on my first day of classes I had a feeling I made the right choice. The campus was bustling with students, the sun was shining, and I was excited to start this new part of my life.




Did you have a favorite professor or class?


My favorite professors were Valarie Aranda for art and Dennis Parmley for scientific illustration. Valerie is a great teacher who always encouraged and inspired me to challenge myself when it came to art. She would always suggest I use a bigger canvas for my piece no matter what size I originally chose. Each painting in my capstone project ended up being about 36 inches x 48 inches.


My first real introduction to scientific illustration was with Dr. Parmley. Drawing fossils for his papers combined my two interests of science and art, and I realized I would love to continue pursuing it as a career. I loved looking through a microscope at tiny fish teeth and salamander jaws and drawing them out in ink. Dr. Parmley would also update me on how his Gila Monsters were doing and what his research was about, which was always fun and interesting to hear.



What is your favorite Georgia College memory?


I loved staying up late to finish art projects. I am such a night owl, so I would go to Ennis Hall late at night, and I would play music over the speakers and jam out while I painted.

That, and I loved game day with the Secular Student Alliance. My group of friends and I reinstated the SSA when we were at GC and we would alternate having discussions one week and game day the next. It was nice to have that community of friends to hang out and have fun with. Most of us would spend time together outside of the club as well, and many of the members became close friends that I keep in touch with today.



"Mount Saint Elias" by Emily Kearney-Williams


As part of your internship, you are creating art to illustrate the lives of the Yakutat Tlingit people from the past 1000 years. What is one interesting fact about the Yakutat Tlingit?


The Tlingit had some very specific and interesting tools for hunting! For instance, there is a specific type of canoe that was only used in Yakutat Bay. It is included in one of my illustrations for the Arctic Studies Center. One end comes together in a sort of point for streamlined movement through water. The other end is rounded and has a wooden piece that juts out of the front. The Tlingit people would wrap this piece in seal skins and it would muffle sound as the front would bump into and move icebergs out of the way. The canoe had a very specific purpose and was only used for seal hunting.


I learn so much as a science illustrator. One piece I recently finished depicts Native Alaskans traveling over ice fields to find a new home, which would end up being Yakutat Bay. They used Mount Saint Elias as their guide, and one of my challenges was to study their migration path and figure out what side of the mountain they would be looking at based on their travels. Photographs from this time in Alaska are rare or nonexistent, so in many cases my paintings are the only images depicting these scenes.




What has been your favorite part of your journey from Georgia College to your internship in Alaska so far?


My first trip to Alaska after graduating from Georgia College. I went with my parents on a sea kayaking trip, and I ended up working as a barista for the summer in a tiny town called Hope. The long summer days made for endless exploration and fun, and the friends I made that summer ended up being my roommates in Anchorage now. It’s nice to already know a few people when you move to a new place, it means I didn’t have to start completely over.

Playing fetch in Hope, Alaska


How has your education at Georgia College helped you become who you are today?


Attending Georgia College was the first time I really enjoyed going to school. I’ve always loved learning, but the structure of high school wasn’t my ideal. The college environment was preferable, from the freedom it provided to the diversity I was being exposed to in classes and with the people I met. It was at Georgia College that I was able to pursue my interest in art, business and natural science. The experiences I had helped me become happier, more confident and more outgoing.


Hiking around Flat Top Mountain in Anchorage, Alaska


For fun, what is the coldest it has been so far in Anchorage and is it difficult to adjust?


Growing up my dad always told me that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” As long as I have my down jacket and some wool layers, I’m ready to go. That being said, it will easily be three degrees on some winter days, and I’m told it will get colder. A lot of it has been new, but it hasn’t been that hard to adjust. I am shocked to discover how much I like the cold. I am certainly looking forward to the summer, though, where the days will last much longer than the five hours of daylight we have right now.



Instagram: kearneywilliams

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