Six College of Liberal Arts students were awarded $5,500 each through the Shuchat Arts Fellowship Program (SAFP) to pursue an independent artistic project this past summer. The grant is offered annually to music, theatre and art students.
“Fellows are expected to use this opportunity to build their portfolios, have professional experiences or otherwise prepare for career or graduate school success in the arts,” says the Willamette website.
This year, studio art majors Emma Burgess (‘21), Claire Read (‘20) and Bailey Dickey (‘20) were among the students who received funding for their projects.
When asked why she decided to apply, Dickey said that she“thought it was an awesome opportunity to actually focus on art for once and get paid to do that.”
Each artist based their proposals on subjects that had held their interest for a while and that they wanted to explore more through art. Burgess’ piece was inspired by the multiple meanings of the word ‘interior,’ Read’s was inspired by her interest in Irish folklore and Dickey’s focused on family photographs that she inherited from her grandmother. Although the medium of the project changed for two of throughout the creation process, all three stayed true to their original subject matter.
Burgess’s project, “Interior Consciousness,” did not change much from what she proposed in her application.
“I developed the idea of creating a hanging structure that somebody could walk into with their head inside, so that when a person was observing another person walking into it, it was as if the house was a person’s head. But also that it was a reflection of my own mind and my own interior consciousness. The viewer could inhabit and enter at eye level, as if they were experiencing it with me,” said Burgess.
The inside of the house is decorated with recycled and found material.
“I like the idea of trying to create with welcoming house, nice space as best I could with trash or materials that were not traditionally something that would be used or seen as rich,” she explained.
Read used the fellowship as a chance to travel back to Ireland, where she had studied abroad and spent a month researching Irish folklore.
At first, she planned on making a book, and it was not until two weeks before her work was exhibited that she decided to make it a mixed media installation titled “Stories Are Telling.”
The final project has multiple components, including a wall of line drawings in frames, hanging feathers and tree bark.
Read’s artist statement that hung next to the instillation read, “I also played with simplicity by treating small objects as extremely precious. These moments that I show throughout my project are ones of captured moments, adulterated moments with objects coated in foreign substances. Although people and magic walk hand in hand the stories are getting lost in the shadow of modern society.”
This theme of folklore being present but being sometimes forgotten shaped the aesthetic choices behind her instillation: “Before I was thinking a lot of intricacy, and trying to get things to be really jumbled and hard to see. But I kind of went the reverse that I made it so simple and so empty that it was hard to see in that way. Kind of this play of being able to see, not being able to see [and] choosing to see,” Read said.
Dickey spent her summer learning a new medium: painting. Her previous artistic experience mostly involved photography and printmaking, but the project evolved to feature four oil paintings and multiple prints.
“Before, I had never painted a portrait. I had never worked with oil paint. So this was a time to learn new things. And it really helped me break that fear I had of trying new forms of art and new styles,” Dickey said.
Dickey’s piece “So, where are you really from?” is inspired by pictures of her grandparents.
“After the passing of my maternal grandmother, I inherited several boxes overflowing with old photographs of family and friends. That summer I poured over each photograph, captivated by the people, places and moments they captured in them. I have always felt drawn to the intense sense of nostalgia and familiarity I experience when viewing them and intrigued by the ways in which they have helped shape my sense of identity,” her artist statement reads.
Dickey shared that after being able to focus so much time and energy on her project, she feels more prepared to complete her thesis in studio art.
All three students shared that the SAFP program was a significant learning experience that made them more confident in themselves as artists.
Read said, “I learned so much from this. Not even just about art or how these processes work, but how I work. And that’s really valuable.”
These pieces were on display in the Art Building from Aug. 26- Sept. 6, and will be again on Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) in the spring semester.
Photo Caption: Emma Burgess looks at her piece “Interior Conciousness,” which explores the many definitions of the word ‘interior.’
Courtesy of Emma Burgess