GWU Tucker Gallery Displays Works by William Paschal Mabry

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Exhibit Showcases Artist’s Versatility and Creative Spirit

photo of William Paschal Mabry
William Paschal Mabry

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—William Paschal Mabry, who died in 2011, was a talented artist who enjoyed exploring different mediums. He worked with clay, metal and wood, painted with pastels and watercolors, and drew in charcoal and ink. He loved photography and also wrote poetry and rap songs. A collection of his works will be on display through Sept. 15 in Tucker Gallery inside the Tucker Student Center on the Gardner-Webb University campus.

William Mabry is the son of Will and Joanie Mabry of Shelby, N.C. Will Mabry is Bulldog Club Director at Gardner-Webb, and Joanie works as a nurse for Hospice Cleveland County. The Mabrys describe their son as fun, creative, compassionate, inquisitive, adventurous and loving. He started drawing at a young age, sometimes doodling on blank walls. “He just liked to create,” Joanie observed. “I think he looked at objects both normal and abnormal, and saw potential to create something from either one. He was inspired by nature and the beauty of God’s creation.”

'Tears for Freedom' by William Mabry
“Tears for Freedom” by William Mabry is displayed on the campus of Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, S.C.

The GWU exhibit is the first time that most of William’s work, created from 1999 to 2011, has been displayed in one place. When he was a student at Shelby High School, some of his art was displayed in student shows at the Cleveland County Arts Council (CCAC) in Shelby. He also displayed a large sculpture at the CCAC he created while a student at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. “This sculpture was never completed to William’s satisfaction,” Will shared. “Two years ago we contracted with local sculptor Nick Lewis to finish what William started. Today, the sculpture can be found in front of the CCAC.”

In 2006, William took a sculpture class in college, and his project for the year involved creating a kinetic sculpture that had to be approximately 20-feet tall. The sculpture called, “Fountain Wings,” was purchased by a Wofford alumnus and donated back to the college, where it was installed in a pond by one of the main entrance gates. This sculpture will soon be relocated to a spot near the new Fine Arts Center. William also created another large sculpture called, “Tears for Freedom,” which is displayed at Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, S.C.

The Mabrys will be on hand to discuss their son’s works at a reception held Sept. 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. in Tucker Gallery. They are proud of everything he created and accomplished as an artist, but also have several favorites. “The most cherished piece is the quilt pattern board William made for me as a Christmas present in 2010,” Joanie reflected. “It was the last piece of artwork he made for us.” Will’s favorites are the three large sculptures. “From concept to completion, I am in awe and very proud of what he created and accomplished in his short life,” he elaborated.

'Fountain Wings' was created by William Mabry for a class he was taking at Wofford College
“Fountain Wings” was created by William Mabry for a class he was taking at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

The Mabrys have endowed a scholarship at GWU, so that part of William’s legacy will be to continue his creative spirit by helping other artists continue to learn, experiment, create, have the courage to transform, and display their art for others to see.

For information about the exhibit, contact the Department of Visual Arts at 704-406-4656 or email

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university that prepares students to become critical thinkers, effective leaders and compassionate servants in the global community. Emphasizing a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics, Gardner-Webb ignites learning and service opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.