Senior Project Sketchbook/A Decade of Progress (Part 4)

Posted by Shannen Luchs on

 The conclusion of the epic saga of my painting senior project.

Part 4 - Painting IV (Watercolors Part 2)



"Freya - Norse

'the lady' 'mistress' 'woman' wife,' associated with fertility, death, Valkyries (she was their leader), love, Friday (named after her), beauty, sexuality, promiscuity, war, divination, had first pick of the dead, absent from Earth during autumn and winter, first gave gift of sorcery to the people of the North; feathered cloak, amber necklace, aurora borealis (said to be a reflection off the Valkyries' armor)"

My dad chose Freya and I have since discovered that he has a serious interest in Norse mythology.  He was probably the one who introduced me to mythology in the first place - and I'm pretty sure I know more about it now than he does (he really limits himself to certain pantheons).   


I ultimately chose Freya to be featured on my show cards because she is the goddess of love and war and she seemed perfectly suitable to represent the battle I was fighting for something I loved.

Freya was revisited in 2016 when I discovered her association with the lynx.  I couldn't resist redoing her - this time including her feather cloak and relocating the aurora borealis from the background into the colors of her skirt.  


"Eostre or Ostara - Germanic/Anglo-Saxon

'movement towards the rising sun,' associated with April or the spring equinox, goddess of spring and rebirth, Easter derived from; eggs, bunnies, tulips, trees in blossom"

Eostre was chosen by one of the two close friends suffering through senior project with me that fall.  I was hesitant to ask her because she is Catholic, but was pleasantly surprised when she chose Eostre, a goddess I wasn't super familiar with. 



"Thalia - Greek

'flourishing' or 'the festive,' muse of comedy and idyllic poetry; comic mask"

 Thalia was chosen by one of my college friends who was a theater major.  


Thalia was revisited in 2019.


"Asherah - Canaanite

mother goddess, related to Ishtar, consort of El, mother of Baal; Asherah poles, snakes, often represented as Tree of Life"

 Asherah was my pick; I was introduced to her in one of my religion classes.  I was intrigued to find evidence of goddesses even in the bible.


Ka Nam

"Ka Nam - Hindu

captured by tiger to be eaten, warned by mouse, fled to cave of magical toad, magical toad intended to enslave, turned into toad herself, climbed tree into sky, Sun Mother's son saw her without her toad suit and fell in love, Sun Mother burned toad skin and broke the curse; toads"

Ka Nam was chosen by the other friend suffering through senior project with me that fall.  I had never heard of her and thought her mythology was really fascinating. 


I remember enjoying - and being proud of - the cloudy background on this one.  These scans are absolutely wretched (the scanner I used - the only one I had - wouldn't quite fit the whole picture in it, which led to uneven lighting and poor quality scans).  


"Clio - Greek

'the Proclaimer' or 'famegiver,' muse of history; parchment scroll, tablets, books"

 The college friend who picked this one was a history major - and she modeled for it too!  I didn't want to bother her too much but she was incredibly supportive during this trying time.  She even showed up to my senior show as my only "family" since my actual family didn't come to see it.  

Clio was revisited in 2015.  

Senior Defense

 For our senior defense we exhibited our work in the campus gallery and faced a panel of four professors - the two who rotated as heads of the department (one of which was my painting professor and the other was the one who told me I shouldn't be painting at all), an art teacher of your choice if the professor of your discipline was not one of the above (I chose the teacher I had for the other half of my painting/drawing classes I think), and one non art professor of your choice (I chose my Hinduism professor).  We were required to submit an artist statement with a minimum of three pages - which I did.  I could have rambled on a lot about my project (which I'm sure you've gathered from reading these blog posts on it), but I held myself back because I expected they didn't want to hear much from me.  I have a brief introduction to my work and let them at it.  I answered questions and talked about the careful arrangement of the pieces and the symbolism in the series - I kept my overthought, overdone efforts largely to myself unless prompted.  Once they're done discussing it with you they make you leave the room and debate your grade.  I sat in the hall with my friends (we all showed up to each other's defenses - to the amusement of the professors) for a long time before they reached a verdict. 

My professor gave me a B-.  I didn't know how to take it; I poured everything into this project.  There were times I thought I'd fail and times I thought I was doing great, and this was where I'd landed.  From what I learned about the other painting majors that school year - they all got B-s.  Every one that I found out about.  This infuriated me; there seemed to be no logic to it.  There was only one other painting major that semester but there were quite a few more in the spring.  The student who made her own paint got the same grade as the one who painted Futurama characters and the one who painstakingly made plaster casts of torsos and painted on them.  One student did these beautiful pieces on synesthesia (I only caught a few glimpses of them in the studio), only to have that project rejected.  She was in it with us in the spring and did these amazing tree landscapes - which they didn't like either.  "Kitchy" became a word we all dreaded.  Everything was kitchy.  Nothing was good enough.  We had been given free reign to paint whatever we wanted, but nothing was right.  There was only one project they seemed to like - one student painted photographs of her friends taken from social media.  It was good quality work but so was a lot of the other material they put down.  Our studio classes had been heavy on experiential learning and we were suddenly expected to put our work into a historical and contemporary context that we'd barely been given the framework on.  We were required to take a few art history courses but not given guidance on how to apply those lessons to our studio work.  In one of my drawing classes the professor (same senior project professor) told us to make a "black drawing" without telling us what that meant.  We were not allowed to look it up.  We made three attempts (in three different classes) before he finally caved and told us - and he didn't seem pleased when I reused my earlier attempts for the final paper completely covered with ink drawing.  We were encouraged to spend all our time in the studio as if our other classes didn't exist - forgoing sleep to come up with better ideas in our sleep deprived state.  I watched the other art majors unravel during the following semester and realized I wasn't alone. 

My senior painting project was a devastating trial that I survived - and I not only hit the next one harder, but I kept working away at my goddesses after I graduated.  I have 25 new goddess paintings in the main series - so far.









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