Renee Ryckman – Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Renee Ryckman, a junior at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida who is majoring in Emerging Media: Experimental Animation. We would like to congratulate Ms. Ryckman on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Fall 2017 term. You can read Renee Ryckman’s artist statement below:

“My college experience first began as a student at Pennsylvania State, studying Animal Sciences. However, as I progressed in my major, I soon began to realize that I could not be studious and focus on art the way I wanted to. After working on a piece for over eight hours I realized that this wasn’t just a hobby and I wanted to make it my career. So, I transferred hundreds of miles and left that life behind to pursue a major in animation and illustration. Now, I have a family of peers that are supportive and creative. We share a lot of the same small classes, so I feel very close to them and I never really had a family of friends like that before. I have had a lot of wonderful opportunities to meet people and to learn from them. I have studied mediums I would have never thought to explore, like sculpture, watercolor illustration, acrylic painting and contour line drawings. Coming to UCF has brightened, and enriched my life immeasurably. I would love to continue studying traditional painting techniques. When I first started painting in classes, I hated painting. It was messy and hard and there was no undo button, so it was extremely foreign to me. However, by the time I had finished the semester, I had learned so much and excelled with it, I wanted to make more and more paintings. I went to galleries and scrutinized the work that has come before me with new eyes wanting to absorb so much from the masters. I am not only focused on the present, I am also concerned with my own future as a student and as a working professional artist. While, I have painted for myself since, I would also like to attend more classes that will help me develop technical skills with watercolor, acrylics and oils. My immediate education goals to develop my skills in animation and painting serve to aid me in becoming the artist I want to be. When I graduate, I plan to work in the production of media like movies and video games doing concept art, illustration, and storyboarding–focusing on the foundation of an idea. To me, this brainstorming phase is the most important part of the creative process. A concept artist helps a producer, or director, see their ideas realized visually. I can think of no greater career than that of a creator. I also have a deep interest in animation, which is my major here at UCF, because the most evocative art is art that moves you, and there’s no more expressive art form than that of animation. I want to be a well-rounded artist, capable of bringing a lot to any project with the experience to work on the projects I love. Ultimately, becoming an artist that works fluidly in many mediums to tell powerful stories. I want to work on huge projects like video games and movies because those are the stories we surround ourselves with. I want to tell a story that might inspire another little African American girl to take that terrifying plunge into art. My motivations are not for fame and glory, which is certainly a fine goal if you’re interested, but I am content to stay behind the curtain as long as I know that the show was in part realized by me. I am far from the same disheartened sophomore that weighed the merits of freedom and security on unforgiving scales and shied from change. Now, I stand tall in the knowledge that I am capable and I am excited about my future again. … I have been blessed to find something that I am deeply passionate about and even now I wake up some mornings ineffably happy because I get to create—assignments to draw and paint rather than to calculate. I have always been a dedicated student, but now I am a devoted one and my once restless spirit is settled. Indubitably, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be and nothing else I’d rather do.”

Mantis Shrimp/Representational , 2016 ©Renee Ryckman

Mantis Shrimp/Soul , 2016 ©Renee Ryckman