Students attending Elizabeth City State University and College of the Albemarle will be the featured artists for April at Arts of the Albemarle.

Jeweler Rick Pronto, a Perquimans County resident who also is a student in COA’s jewelry and metalsmithing program at the COA-Dare campus, will be AoA’s featured tactile artist this month.

Both Pronto’s work and that of his fellow college students will be featured at a reception at AoA during the First Friday ArtWalk Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

AoA recruits new artists to feature each month, typically one who is a painter and another who works in a tactile medium like pottery, sculpture, jewelry or fiber art.

The exhibit of this month’s featured artists, “Emerging Artists: A Celebration of Student Work in Elizabeth City,” will include the work of more than 20 students in visual arts programs at ECSU and COA. The exhibit will feature a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures and jewelry.

“This exhibition at Arts of the Albemarle is such a great opportunity for College of The Albemarle’s visual art students to share their work with the community,” said Christina Weisner, chair of the Department of Humanities & Fine Arts at COA. “Students look forward to this partner exhibition with ECSU’s students every year.”

Jeffrey P. Whelan, associate professor and program coordinator for visual art at ECSU, added: “These students display a breath-taking level of seriousness, approaching problem solving and creativity in both fine and applied arts. What I really love to see is their passion for communicating their ideas.”

Pronto, a retired social worker, both designs and creates jewelry and metal designs at his home studio in Hertford. He said his work is inspired by the natural world he sees around him.

“Having grown up in the lush rural foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, attending college in the desert west of Tucson, Arizona, then spending most of my professional career near the ocean on the North Carolina coast, I was greatly inspired by the varied colors, textures, and patterns I saw in the natural world around me,” Pronto says. “The creative goal of my work is to represent my love of nature and bring about the same emotional response in others viewing my work that it has brought to me.”

Pronto plans to attend the reception at AoA that will be held during Friday’s ArtWalk. AoA reminds patrons that COVID-19 safety guidelines will be in effect, limiting the number of visitors allowed in its gallery at one time.

Pronto’s jewelry and the “Emerging Artists” exhibit will be on display in the gallery through April.