‘Contemplation’ a metaphor for crossroad at graduation

Graduating Studio Arts major Palema O’Connor details the inspiration behind “Contemplation.” Materials used include acrylic on gessobord and wood, color pencil, magnifying sheet, lotka paper, and a 16” Round.

I am closing in on a lifelong dream by completing my Bachelors Degree in Studio Arts. Having a Masters degree in Education and a long career behind me, I refer to this as my personal renaissance. One of my mixed-media pieces, “Contemplation,” seems a fitting metaphor as I stand at this crossroad. The work transpired from two prompts, “reflection and refraction,” given to us by Professor Schemm in our Open Studio course last fall. 

I have observed this scene countless times on our small pond. Surrounded by shimmering color and light, the heron is focused on the goal of retrieving nourishment, much like my focus to create art is to nourish my heart and soul. Looking up at the creature is its own reflection, a stamp of history in the present. I am reflecting on my art journey which has entailed years of creative exploration. The recent collaboration with fellow students and professors presented opportunities to think critically, historically, and problem solve. Creating art, especially with others, is amazing this way.

Refraction can either bring things into focus or distort their shape and meaning. The upper small circle, covered by a thin magnifying glass, shows a butterfly freed from its cocoon. Could this be the emergence from self perception and doubt, a battle I believe we all endure? This is followed by the center circle holding a resting self-portrait displaying solace and peace. The third circle shows a mighty flying raptor. Bringing closure to my degree, I feel a sense of flight to take my art and allow it to nest where it will thanks to my experiences through Castleton’s amazing art department. 


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