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New Stair Riser Artwork Revealed at King University

Stair Riser ArtworkBRISTOL, Tenn., March 8, 2018 – King University’s latest art project will be unveiled on March 14, 2018 during an event hosted by King University Libraries. The art reveal will take place at 12:15 p.m. in the E.W. King Library on King University’s main campus in Bristol.

The art project utilizes the risers on the staircases to showcase the spine of well-loved books. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a riser as the “upright board between two stairs.” The current art project for the set of 11 risers is the third set of risers to be installed in the E. W. King Library, which serves as the main library for King University.

The 11 completed risers include book spine designs by senior J.R. Ballowe, junior Caleb Beverly, sophomore Marzuwq Bholai, sophomore Kendra Dougherty, junior Christina Thomas, and junior Jedon Young. The books spines displayed permanently in the library are:


  • “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (Jedon Young, Woodbridge, Va.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe (Caleb Beverly, Bristol, Tenn.)
  • “1984” by George Orwell (Caleb Beverly)
  • “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton (J.R. Ballowe, Roseland, Va.)
  • “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank (J.R. Ballowe)
  • “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare (Kendra Dougherty, Weber City, Va.)
  • “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker (Kendra Dougherty)
  • “Rocket Boys” by Homer Hickam (Christina Thomas, Kingsport, Tenn.)
  • “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens (Christina Thomas)
  • “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer (Marzuwq Bholai, Tampa, Fla.)
  • “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott (Marzuwq Bholai)

“Three or four years ago, a student worker shared a picture on her phone of the riser book spine idea and suggested that we should do this in the library,” said Erika Brammer, dean of Library Services at King University. “I thought what a neat thing and never dreamed we would be able to do it here, but [the idea] always stuck in the back of my mind.”

During the renovation of the library, the stair riser idea came to light. After discussion and positive responses, the project was pursued, first on one set of nine risers. “We determined the best class for the project would be the Introduction to Visual Rhetoric and Graphic Design class, which is essentially a beginning graphic design class,” said Jones. “I felt this would be a great project for the students; they would have to research the material. We discussed the symbolism of the books; it also allowed the students to have a broader experience through the client – artist relationship.”

To determine the list of books that would ultimately make the cut for the riser project, Emily Krug, instructional services librarian, began researching the one hundred best books of all time in multiple genres. “To help narrow down the choices, we set criteria such as authors from diverse backgrounds and genres. We ended up with a list of 90 titles from 10 genres from which we would make the final selections. We then narrowed the list to 35 titles. From those we created a survey and shared it with the King community via social media as well as posted an enlarged print survey in the E.W. King Library in Bristol to garner responses.”

“Of the final book selections made, it was key for each title chosen to evoke a response and for them to be recognizable,” added Brammer.

From the narrowed list of 11, the Introduction to Visual Rhetoric and Graphic Design students each chose their favorite to create a riser book spine design. “One thing I enjoyed about this project was the close collaboration between the students and the librarians,” said Jones. “For the students, the librarians were their client. They were able to work with them, receive feedback, and create something to the clients’ specifications, which was an important part of the process for the students. The idea originally came from a student, and now students have brought it to fruition.”

“I love the aspect of this project where we were able to act as the client for the students. This was a perfect example of collaboration with students to provide them with real-world experience,” commented Brammer.

“Their work will live on in the library, which is great for the students as designers,” said Brammer. “We are hopeful the project will continue in the future, adding more book spine art by King students to other stair risers in the E.W. King Library.”


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.