Cumberlands seniors Abby Elam (Georgetown, KY), Olivia McCarrell (Seymour, TN), and Jonathan Wren (Williamsburg, KY) have artwork on display on University of the Cumberlands’ campus. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cumberlands’ art gallery is located on the first floor of the Luecker Building. Abby’s and Olivia’s exhibitions last from April 17th – 21st, and Jonathan’s exhibition will last from April 24th – 28th.
Abby’s senior project consists of two large acrylic and oil paintings and a wooden structure. The three pieces have overall themes of rebirth, freedom, and the old life that must pass away before a new life begins. Abby believes there’s great significance to these themes in throughout life, from “coming of age” as a young adult to being reborn spiritually as a Christian, among other ways. She said, “One of my past professors told me that most of my artwork involves something covering over something else. I decided to play into that pattern. I think that for me it’s because I want to help protect others and that I myself want to feel safe.” (Interestingly, in this project, that theme of safety and comfort is juxtaposed with the concept of breaking away from something.) The biggest challenge for Abby has been time; it took weeks to gather, configure, and secure all the materials for the large central structure, and it took her a long time to paint her canvases – followed by even more time to add oil paint on top of the acrylic, to add texture. But in the end, to her, it’s all been worth it.
Olivia’s senior project is very personal for her, involving several pieces that show different aspects of her struggle with self-confidence and body image – but also how body positivity and empowerment are possible. She said, “I want to show that, when you take to heart what society tells you that you have to look like and have to do, it not only hurts you mentally, it hurts you physically as well. I have a life-sized structure, and a cubism-style piece, and I also had a friend of mine do a cast of me, my whole body, from head to toe.” Olivia has faced a challenging few years – surgery to correct an athletics injury, confessing to her parents that she had been taking medicine for her anxiety since freshman year, and juggling a schedule full of classes, artwork, exams, and lacrosse. Through it all, she has discovered how life-changing it is to accept herself, how to face her fears, and how healing it is for her to do art. She’s nervous to start “adulting” after graduation, yet she is also excited for the opportunities it will bring.
Jonathan’s senior project is a group of three paintings involving foam, which adds a 3D effect to the canvases. The paintings began with a question: how could he depict the three “persons” of the Christian Trinity artistically? “I wanted to get away from the common, traditional depictions and try to depict God as a completely abstract, non-representational form. I wanted to represent how God’s glory, which is too big for us to comprehend, breaks into the chaos – how creation comes from the light of God.” Jonathan uses depictions of light, water, and wind to represent God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. His personal relationship with God, descriptions of God in the Bible, and the beauty of nature were heavy influences for these pieces.
These senior artists are excited to showcase their work and see how people respond. They have other artwork on display in addition to their senior project pieces, showcasing their talent in various media and how much their skill has increased during their years at Cumberlands.
The Department of Art invites the college community and public to view the exhibitions. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., located in the Luecker Building on Cumberlands’ campus.
For more information about Cumberlands’ art program, visit www.ucumberlands.edu/academics.