Reagan Wigboldy – Fall 2017 Honorable Mention

Meet Reagan Wigboldy, a a junior at Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Illinois who is majoring in Art. We would like to congratulate Ms. Wigboldy on being selected as one of the three recipients of our Fall 2017 Honorable Mention Commendations for a Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship. You can read Reagan Wigboldy’s artist statement below:

There is an intricate web that reaches its tangled arms across the world, formed and thickened each time a soul opens up to another. Our longing for relationship characterizes humanity. The art I create, regardless of media, is an exploration of the pain, trust, and love that comes alongside these connections. As expression surges through my fingers, I watch the joy of a new friendship scrawled onto a page, the pain of those lost twisted into rusted wire, and the confusing longing for God carved into the pages of a book.

I was pulled in countless directions when working to narrow down a major, but a single passion glistened through each of my interests: story. I am drawn to character development, whether it be developing backstory through writing, expressing relationships through drawing, or creating life through special effects makeup. Animation and 3D modeling enable me to pour into the depth and detail of a character, thus enhancing the quality and intricacy of a plot. I love taking a character’s story and creating an illustration, specifically drawn from who they are and who they’re becoming. I will not come up short. As I continue to learn, I constantly remind myself: why squander an art education on simply following rubrics when the assignments can be used as an opportunity to express one’s soul and create something never done before?

The allure to story naturally kindles my affection toward adventure games; however, I have a love for strategy as well. I thrive in the field of mathematics and enjoy solving calculus problems for their puzzle-like aspects. Though I want to focus on art, the left side of my brain needs to be constantly challenged as well, for me to complete my best work. This strengthens my adaption of and endurance with coding. Finally, working in the field will allow me to make a difference in the fight against hyper-sexualization of females rampant in the game industry. It allows me to grasp purpose in aiding the equality and diversity of video game character representation.

I am a decahedron surrounded by cubes. This used to be my strong opener: an attention grabber that lead into my thesis and pulled together my final point at the end. I would talk about my journey from a timid, lonely middle-schooler to beginning to really discover myself and my inability to fit into a box in high school. Though the friends I found in high school inspired me to grow as a person, they weren’t responsible for my change, something extremely important that I initially missed. Life shifted and friends changed; I was left without direction, or even definition. Gradually, I realized that growing isn’t finding the group that I strive to be like, but discovering the bonds that I can make through each relationship that I form and the pieces of my life that they highlight. As I make more and more connections from each point in my life, I’m not adding more sides to myself, but finding myself in a tangled journey through dimension. I am not a cube, but neither am I a decahedron. The growing mess that is my life has passed by polygons and polyhedrons, and endlessly grows in complexity and beauty.

Checking it Out, 2016 ©Reagan Wigboldy

Genesis, 2017 ©Reagan Wigboldy

  

Inge Snethen-Hoogstra- Fall 2017 Honorable Mention

Meet Inge Snethen-Hoogstra, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who is majoring in Art History and Applied Linguistics. We would like to congratulate Ms. Snethen-Hoogstra on being selected as one of the three recipients of our Fall 2017 Honorable Mention Commendations for a Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship. You can read Inge Snethen-Hoogstra’s artist statement below:

Reaching the halfway point of my college education has been an exciting time for me. Throughout my first four semesters here at UW-Milwaukee I have been able to familiarize myself more with the opportunities that a University can offer me. Through information sent by UWM and conversations with professors and fellow students the road to my graduation is now geared even more towards my interests. One opportunity that has greatly influenced my college experience is my acceptance in to the Honors College. Its concept of small classes and discussion based seminars has evolved my way of thinking and learning. It has been and will continue to be a positive influence on my college career. Thanks to the Honors College, I am well on my way to completing both my majors, Art History and Applied Linguistics.

Another interest of mine is helping others better understand the rich history of the world through art, language and culture. That is why I have joined PASS, Panther Academic Success Services, as a Supplemental Instruction Leader. I spend ten hours every week helping students better comprehend the material of Art 100: American Art and Culture…. My interest in foreign language and culture has further led me to apply for a Certificate in Ancient Mediterranean Studies. I remembered that I enjoyed studying Latin in middle school and learning about the history of Europe including the country where I grew up, the Netherlands…. After I finish my Bachelor degrees and my certificate I hope to be able to pursue a Master’s degree. Ultimately, I wish to obtain a PhD and become a professor at a University, doing what I love: teaching the        significance of art, culture, and history.

Essay Question: Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker each used very distinctive color palettes in their paintings. Please compare and contrast Fred & Eileen’s color palettes, taking into consideration their emphasis on thoughtful preparation, execution, and technique in their watercolor practice.

At first glance, Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker appear to have a similar style, choosing both watercolor for their medium and similar subject matter. But on viewing their works more intimately they go about depicting their chosen subject in distinct ways.

Architecture was Frederic Whitaker’s preferred subject matter and this shows in his use of stark lines and detailed facades. Especially in his work “Baroque Facade”, he uses different shades of grays, browns, and blues to create a crisp image, making it possible for the viewer to discern every detailed aspect of the building. His buildings are well thought-out structures that jump to the foreground. Frederic Whitaker is not afraid to show the meticulous study and planning that went into his works, as he keeps the line-work an important part of his paintings. This is not only the case with his architecture paintings, but with any subject matter he chose. His figure studies for example show a classical approach to anatomy, using the medium of watercolor to examine the play of light and shadow on a figure. He manages to create depth and perspective in his work by using mainly the same color in different shades of light and dark. As with his buildings, every line, curve, and wrinkle is shown.

Eileen Monaghan Whitaker, on the other hand, uses a more vibrant color palette and vivid forms. In her architecture paintings she creates a lively scene by adding spots of red and blue to bricks and rooftops. She also adds figures in such a way that it makes the scene active. They do not blend in with the architecture, but stand out to the viewer. The different shades on building facades create the illusion of detail. Brickwork and decorative architecture is suggested, stark lines are blended in with the rest of the surroundings. The brickwork is suggested in such a way that while she leaves it up to the viewer to complete the details, the hints she leaves make it flow naturally. The building becomes part of the scene as a whole, not its sole focus point. Her vibrant color palette is even more prevalent in her figure studies. Where Frederic had a more academic style, studying form and figure in a Renaissance way, like a DaVinci or Michelangelo. Eileen depicts her figures in a more everyday, whimsical way. Her paintings have a journalistic quality, like family photos of days at the beach, such as in “Con”, or a lazy day at home in “Ah! What Sweet Repose!”, reminding the viewer more of nineteenth century, European, Impressionist painters. Her figure paintings are snapshots of everyday life, whereas Frederic’s are posed and lengthy studies.

Their differences are even more pronounced in their flora and fauna paintings. Frederic Whitaker continues his crisp line-work and focus on figures. However, he does add a pop of color to these works. The color is focused on the flora of the works. The animals themselves are mostly quite monochrome, such as the elephants and the rhinos. The trees and plants are where the color can be found. Different shades of reds and browns are used to indicate leaves and flowers. Eileen Monaghan Whitaker uses color in a much more pronounced way. It is in her animals, plants, and backgrounds. Just like her architecture, the use of color all over blends the figures in with the background. The animals become part of the scene. There are no stark outlines, but flora and fauna weave in and out of each other.

After this closer look at the works of Frederic and Eileen it appears they do in fact have a very distinct style from one another. Even though they both use the medium of watercolor and both paint similar subject matter, they each have their own approach to painting. Eileen Whitaker embraces the use of watercolor fully, expressing its liquid quality. She blends her forms together, hinting at their specific shape and detail. She lightly brushes the paint across the canvas or lets it splotch and run across, emphasizing its watery aspect. Frederic uses the medium in a different way. His detail and linework make his watercolor almost mimic oil paint. He puts the emphasis on the subject matter, not the scene as a whole. He chooses a specific object and lets that stand out to the viewer, depicting it in full detail.

Despite this difference, it is no surprise that they exhibited together and supported each other’s work. The way their works contrast allows them to complete one another. Eileen’s work complements Frederic’s and vice versa.

Bethany Habegger – Fall 2017 Honorable Mention

Meet Bethany Habegger, a freshman at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana who is majoring in Fine Arts/ Arts Education. We would like to congratulate Ms. Habegger on being selected as one of the three recipients of our Fall 2017 Honorable Mention Commendations for a Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship. You can read Bethany Habegger’s artist statement below:

“Proper education is crucial to being successful with future endeavors, such as career goals. As a student who is dedicated to achieving high classroom grades, I am well aware of what it takes to reach a goal. Throughout my high school career, I have taken many leaps and bounds toward reaching my upcoming graduation and future college life…. I am a visual artist, and I have made every effort to create a unique portfolio of artwork that I have shared by exhibiting my work. … During my college career, I want to soak in knowledge, new experiences and explore creating art and improving as an artist. I am so excited to have the opportunity to expand how I can create art and share it with others. I want to grow my skills and show the world my creations so that they can hopefully have an impact on others. My goal is to be accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program, a very specialized professional arts program, and I plan to also take business classes to increase my knowledge about how to market my work.

After earning a BFA in painting, I plan to continue my education by attending graduate school. I am interested in exploring careers in the field of museum studies or teaching art at the college level. I want to make the best use of my skills to engage others with art and improve my community. … There are so many possibilities for the years to come, and no matter which career path I take, I know that my passions will be my driving force. I will continue to make art and share my vision; this passion will be a part of my life no matter what career path I take. 

Ghost, 2017 ©Bethany Habegger

Speckles, 2017 ©Bethany Habegger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Hedges – Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Emily Hedges, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky who is majoring in Art History. We would like to congratulate Ms. Hedges on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Fall 2017 term. As part of the application process, Ms. Hedges was asked to submit an essay response to a question about the Whitakers and their work. You can read Emily Hedges’ artist statement and essay below:

“Hello, my name is Emily Hedges. I’m an Art History major at the University of Kentucky. I’m also majoring in Arts Administration. After I receive my bachelor’s degree, I plan on getting my Master’s degree in Museum Studies. I aspire to work in a museum, particularly as a museum curator. I found this interest through an internship at a small museum in my hometown a few years ago. I worked directly with the director and I learned so much about museums. That’s when I discovered my dream of becoming a museum curator. As I recently completed my freshman year of college, I’m even more certain that I have chosen a career path that I love and enjoy. With each class, my passion for art history continues to grow. I’m excited to see where my degree will take me.

My future career doesn’t incorporate my own art, however I still enjoy drawing and painting. I love to read books and watch movies in my spare time. I love to learn, so you can find me reading a book on art history, or other topics like astronomy or plant life. … I love to experience art in its various forms; concerts, exhibitions, or theater productions. I feel there’s so much to learn and feel about the world around us and art can provide that interaction.

Essay Question: Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker each used very distinctive color palettes in their paintings. Please compare and contrast Fred & Eileen’s color palettes, taking into consideration their emphasis on thoughtful preparation, execution, and technique in their watercolor practice.

Watercolor is an extraordinary medium. It’s created with a pigment dissolved in water and applied with a brush, typically to dampened paper. The result has a translucent effect on what is expected of watercolor painting. An artist does not have total control when painting with watercolor. The beauty of this art form is the spontaneous outcomes that come when applying the wet paint to paper. A mistake cannot be simply painted over without impacting the entire piece. With watercolor, one can glaze layer upon layer without losing luminosity. It gives artists a chance to play with light and color in a completely different way than oils or acrylics. Artists have used this distinct art form to create striking works of art. Artists like Frederick and Eileen Whitaker have taken the expectations of watercolor and gone a step further. The versatility of watercolor painting can be seen in the difference between Frederick and Eileen Whitaker’s artistic style and color palette.

The contents of Frederick Whitaker’s artworks range from figures and architecture to still life and ideal landscapes. However, there is one common factor among all his works; the color palette. Frederick incorporates rich, vivid hues into his works of art. His combined use of muted colors and earth tones in his structured compositions contributes to his personal style. Through his color palette, watercolor allows him to exhibit different forms of lighting and colors in everyday scenes of life. He constructs these landscapes and figures by mastering the wash technique, followed by several layers of smaller brushstrokes. Some of Frederick’s pieces reveal use of black pen to add thin, contour lines of detail to the forms. Frederick almost always presents a full composition. In many of his architectural pieces, Frederick uses washes of pigment to create an atmospheric perspective. The closer buildings are more vivid and detailed while the buildings farther away appear blurry, just as the eye would see it. Frederick adds to his realistic quality through his use of lights and shadows. He captures highlights by using the white color of the paper. His delicate use of colors and shadows brings his paintings to life, despite the transparency of watercolor itself. His consistency of layers brings a depth to his works. Frederick’s color palette is a key characteristic to how he approached the art form of watercolor.

Like her husband, Eileen Whitaker explores a variety of subject matters in her works. However, Eileen’s use of bright, saturated colors stands apart. In addition, her incorporation of pastel colors and loosely painted layers leave her images with a soft, soothing atmosphere. While most of her compositions do not feature a realistic scene behind the subject, the blossoms of bold colors and flicks of speckled paint instead add an expressive quality to her stylized works. It’s clear that she wants her paintings to look like artwork, and not mistaken for a photograph because of a heightened realism. However, a majority of her works do exhibit a good amount of detail. Eileen works with her color palette and the luminosity that watercolor offers to create idealized beauty in many of her pieces. This factors into her expressive style and need to paint with emotion. In several of her pieces, especially of the still life genre, she uses the white pigment of the paper to contrast the brightly colored, detailed subjects. The negative space immediately draws the eye to the subject of the painting. Through her bold brushstrokes and bubbles of color, it’s evident that she paints with emotion and has no great concern for depicting things exactly as they are seen in the real world. She portrays life through her own imaginative conception.

Frederick’s analytical vision is the opposite of Eileen’s emotional one. Their differing styles and use of colors showcases how an artist can take on an art form, like watercolor, and make it their own. Frederick’s sketch-like paintings exudes a confidence of proportions and perspective in contrast to Eileen’s brilliant hues of beautiful expression. The different color palettes had a great effect on their own style and how they wanted to express it. Frederick’s muted colors and earth tones grounded him to the type of realism he wanted to portray. Eileen’s saturated colors in contrast with bright pastel colors gave her the creative freedom she wanted to express emotion and feeling through her work. While both artists demonstrate a variety and vibrancy of colors, their differences illustrate the creative thinking that goes on in the mind of an artist. The dynamic duo of Frederick and Eileen Whitaker has forever influenced the watercolor art form.

Logan Magee – Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Logan Magee, a freshman at The New School, New York City, New York who is majoring in Communications Design. We would like to congratulate Ms. Magee 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 Logan Magee’s artist statement below:

“I have created art all of my life. Even when I was very little I would force my mother to draw smiley faces so I could see how she did it. When I began drawing, I drew girls and boys; their hair was the yellow crayon, their skin was the skin crayon (a crayon that looks like a mix of apricot, white, and tan. Should’ve been named “fair skin”), and the lips on their smiling faces were light pink. Growing up, I didn’t even notice that I was only drawing white people. I had normalized “white” as normal. I had never included myself. As I grew, I studied art more intensely and learned art history. I loved the Renaissance; porcelain white skin in flowing white robes was a common motif that symbolized innocence, purity, and most importantly, beauty.

However, I was internalizing this and applying it to myself. From about fourth to eighth grade, I started to hate my dark, tightly coiled hair, my golden brown skin, and my developing curves. I decided to cut and relax my hair, and I hung out with a mainly white crowd. I also applied this negative thinking to my art. I painted white girls with blonde hair, and rosy cheeks. I remember quite often my mother would ask me “Why don’t you ever paint any black girls?” My response was usually “No reason, I just paint,” but secretly, I was scared to. I neglected representing anything other than European beauty standards. Seeing only white women being the subject of both art and beauty ads made me process “white” as beautiful, and anything else as not.

In the first years of high school, I changed. I started seeing more black women in the arts, like Katrina Andry, Kara Walker, and Lina Viktor. For the first time, I felt compelled to do something about the fact that I had rejected painting women of color. I wanted to paint with more browns, reds, blacks, and bronzes, and I wanted to paint curly hair. I wanted to make my portraits of girls have more substance, and not just be something to stare at. And so I did – and ever since then, I have had the drive to represent what wasn’t shown to me in art class growing up. My work now has a lot to do with gender politics, race, identity, and inward feelings vs. outward appearances.

Moving forward, I have decided that the one of the best ways for me to communicate equal representation is via magazines. I love magazines – I owe a lot to journalism about art, music, and fashion because it helped me discover a good portion of the contemporary artists I know today. One thing I’ve noticed consistently with magazines, however, is the lack of diversity. Black artists, writers, and designers, especially women, are neither featured as often nor as fairly as we should. Therefore, I have decided to continue my education at the New School, and study for two degrees: journalism and communications design. My goal for post-college is to head my own magazine, where I would feature and cover a population of unique artists, intellectuals, and writers of color. My second goal is to continue creating visual content that features a diverse cast, whether that be through performance, sculpture, 2D works, and video. I want to be the artist, the business woman, and the writer that other little girls of color look up to when they need inspiration, when they need to see something like themselves.”

 

Stretch/uttanasana, 2017 ©Logan Magee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light Study/Truth, 2016 ©Logan Magee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Among Friends, South of the Border by Frederic Whitaker

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A Surprising Find from the Whitaker Photo Archives

There are times when an image crosses your desk, and it captures your attention, despite its rather ordinary composition. In this instance, that image arrived in the form of a small photo depicting an artist standing at the edge of a cliff, looking rather pleased with himself as he grasps the familiar leg of an easel holding his plein air painting. There was nothing particularly striking about the photo itself, and at this first meeting, I merely logged it as interesting, but moved on to other pressing matters. It was the second time the photograph caught my eye, as I was perusing the Whitaker image archives, that I felt compelled to pass it along to the Foundation board, along with a query asking if anyone knew the gentleman in the photo, or could provide any contextual information about why this image might appear in the Whitaker photo archives.

0419_Roy Mason friend of Whitakers_SMAs it so happens, this smiling gentleman, clad in a jaunty angled fedora, was none other than famous watercolor artist Roy Mason. Roy and his wife Lena were longtime friends of the Whitakers, who they met in 1940s while both couples resided in New York. When the Masons moved to La Jolla, CA in the early 1960s, it would be a combination of their warm influence and the enchanting culture and climate of La Jolla, which would persuade Fred and Eileen to join their friends by moving to the area in 1965. Over the coming decades, the friendship between the Masons and Whitakers would continue to grow as both couples flourished within the elite artist community of La Jolla and San Diego. Fred and Roy’s paintings were even featured alongside each other in the late 1960s as part of a group exhibition celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the La Jolla Art Association. 

In Roy and Lena, Fred and Eileen found kindred artistic souls, as reflected by the words of Eileen Monaghan Whitaker in the book Contrasts that Complement, where she remarks that

“It was natural to fall in love with Roy the instant you met him – everyone did…Roy was a bright man with broad interests, and a fine painter as well! There was never a more attractive couple than Roy and Lena. It was wonderful for us to have the Masons, such good friends and stimulating people, so close.” (Jennings, 53)

Whether it was hosting a social gathering for the arts, exchanging advice, introducing one another to collectors and patrons, or inspiring each other to continue to refine their skills and achieve new heights of personal and professional success, the legacy of the unique, decades long friendship between the Whitakers and Masons would be the enrichment of both their contemporary artistic community, as well as future generations of watercolor artists.

Eleonor Botoman – Fall 2016 Scholarship Winner

EleonorBotomanPortrait_editMeet Eleonor Botoman, a freshman at Barnard College, who is majoring in English and Art History. We would like to congratulate Eleonor on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Fall 2016 term. As part of the application process, Eleonor was asked to submit an essay response to a question about the Whitakers and their work. You can read Eleonor’s artist statement and essay below:

 

Artist Statement

As a double major in English and Art History, I’ve set my sights on exploring the art world through art criticism. I currently attend Barnard College, a women’s college in New York City, and I’ve spent my first year studying art history and architecture, researching internship opportunities for next fall, and wrote for the Journal of Art Criticism (JAC). This new student publication had its first issue release in early May and I am currently writing more pieces to be published in the summer and fall semester. I’ve also contributed to Postcrypt Art Gallery, an organization atColumbia University that puts on themed exhibitions of student artwork covering a wide range of mediums from installations, digital design, paintings, and sculpture.

Being in New York, I’ve been able to discover new developments in the art world by exploring all of the museums and galleries just a few subway stops away, and my professors, experts in the art history and architecture field, have guided me through not only the history of art, but also where the future of art is going.

As I begin my writing classes in the fall, I’m eager to develop my writing skills and use the analytic knowledge I gain from English to produce criticisms and theories of my own. I want to question artistic choices, draw comparisons and relationships across movements, understand the artist’s influences and inspirations, and place contemporary works into greater historical contexts. The skills I learn in writing will help me articulate my ideas in ways as creative as the artists I choose to discuss. However, I don’t want to keep all of my learning strictly on-campus.

With the fall semester just a few months away, I’ve already begun applying to internships in different organizations in order to further immerse myself within the art world. Some of these organizations include Artsty.net, a website that not only produces articles but also keeps track of artists’ profiles and pieces as well as guides to auctions and various galleries. There is also Magnus, a new app that identifies the work of art you’re looking at and provides you with all of its information including the artist, the gallery it belongs to, and the current sale price. I am also looking to work for ArchDaily, an architecture journal that looks at up-and-coming architects, explores new developments in design, and studies the impact of contemporary projects (both residential and public works) on the world today.

Essay Question: Compare and contrast Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker’s watercolors depicting Mexican culture

Mexico has been a source of inspiration for many writers and artists over the years, from the Beat poets’ trips south of the border to Diego Rivera’s grand murals of indigenous people. The Whitakers felt this strong pull to Mexico, and captured their awe in beautiful watercolor paintings. Both Eileen and Frederic’s works project emotion into the viewer. The flickering effects of the watercolor evoke a bright Mexican energy. Frederic and Eileen’s pieces may share subject matter, but their individual perception of Mexico causes them to splinter into two subjects of focus: Eileen studies the Mexican people while Frederic documents the Mexican earth, bringing a narrative quality to the forefront of his compositions. In an exploration of their differences, the watercolor artists together produce a whole, richly dynamic image of the power of this Latin-American land.

Eileen Whitaker explores Mexico through its people. Her warm portraits use vivid color to bring a face to a kind of Latin-American energy. She captures moments of daily life, brightened with whites and reds. The figures themselves, however, stand almost rigid poses. She does not use Impressionist brushstrokes to create her pictures. Subjects are rendered to as close a realism that can come with watercolor paints, people documented as if each moment she sees is a photograph. Princess Mariposa (1989) captures the woman with a realistic lightness and her dreamy expression with the rainbow patterned fabrics of her traditional dress. However, there is no intense overlapping of motifs or color in the composition. The mural in the corner, the leaves, the hummingbird, and the butterflies that bloom from behind the woman are included as motifs to further emphasize her identity. The flat white wall ensures no distraction. Eileen sees the people and their lives as the true expression of Mexican tradition, worn in their clothing.

Frederic’s interpretation of the lives of Mexican people emits a more rugged and masculine quality. In the Poultry Merchant (1967), he uses rougher strokes, yet overlaps the washed out tones to create delicate shadows and streaks of sun-brightened white across the feathers. Unlike Eileen, he does not paint the Mexican people with emotion. The merchant’s face appears with only a few minimal strokes while the chickens, the blanket, and his handkerchief are rendered with precision. Eileen captures the expressive quality of the locals’ faces, punctuating their portraits with richly colored cloth, while Frederic defines the Mexican people by traditional objects they use in their lives, carrying into a greater narrative quality of his series of paintings. Two paintings show this documentary quality: Dawn, Nov 2nd (1968) and the Lettuce Pickers (1966).¹ One takes place on an urban street while the other shows men at work in the fields, however Frederic produces two very similar studies on the power of the Mexican landscape. Watercolor is not a painting medium that encourages exact lines so the artist must make the choice to place the most important aspect of the painting right at the foreground where the image can be meticulously rendered. In both Dawn, Nov 2nd and the Lettuce Pickers, he places Mexico at the forefront while the flickering forms of the people linger towards the background. Only one individual sits close to the viewer in Dawn, Nov 2nd, and it should be noted that he wears the most elaborate costume. The Lettuce Pickers appear as generalized forms as well, but in the foreground Frederic places a cardboard box in the corner as a symbol of their agricultural work. He brings the rows of lettuce forward before stretching them all the way towards back of the canvas, sending the viewer’s eye back into a vast and fertile land. Eileen shows individual identities but Frederic uses the Mexican people to create a larger history of a collective identity. Their faces have a formless quality, only enough to differentiate a person within a group. In the darkened daylight of Dawn, Frederic punctuates the men with bright yellow caps. In the Lettuce Pickers, hats play a similar role. This is a symbol of male traditional dress, a practical one that keeps them cool under the hot southern sun. The Lettuce Pickers could become faded into the monotony of the green field, but their bright hats emphasize their hard work. As with the boxes, the hats are a symbol of hardworking spirit, similar to Eileen’s representation of the women’s energy in electric fabrics.

A final point of contrast between the two artists arises with Frederic’s use of a darker palette. Eileen doesn’t shy away from duskier tones, but she prefers bright pinks to her husband’s shadowy blues. This comparison is drawn between two paintings: Eileen’s Se Vende Ajos (1990) and Frederic’s Flower Market (1977). Both pieces address the bustling Mexican marketplace, however there is variation within color schemes. Eileen’s painting projects warmth with hues of orange, reds, and purples. The figures are arranged so that each item for sale can be represented. Oranges and garlic are presented by the merchants and fabrics draping in the background are only partially blocked by the man in the center while the rest of their patterns are unobstructed. The scene is inviting, decorated for the viewer. Frederic’s work, on the other hand, shows a louder, busier scene. All of the shapes reduce in definition to enhance the frenzied setting. The women’s dresses merge together in tones of blues and purples. Sellers carry clouds of blossoms. The sky is darker, drawing attention to the flowers and the dynamic movement of the crowd. In Eileen’s painting, the man engages with the viewer, welcomes them into the selling space. Frederic places the viewer behind the women sitting in the shade with their children. They do not participate, perhaps because they cannot keep up with the chaos of the market, and the viewer is encouraged to observe in order to learn about the culture. Frederic’s paintings capture a dynamic story of Mexican life while Eileen’s works follow a more stagnant tradition of portraiture and elegant expression of culture. 

¹Unbeknownst to the author, the setting for Frederic Whitaker’s watercolor painting “Lettuce Pickers” was Salinas, California, not Mexico, as suggested. This is an understandable misconception as the painting is included with collections featuring Mexico and Mexican culture, and details regarding where “Lettuce Pickers,” was painted were not available to the author as of the writing of this essay.

Carrie Taylor – Fall 2016 Scholarship Winner

CarrieTaylor PortraitMeet Carrie Taylor, a senior at Georgia State University, who is majoring in Studio Art. We would like to congratulate Carrie on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Fall 2016 term:

[I am] only 6 classes shy of my B.F.A. degree, [and] upon graduation I will be able to be financially independent while working in my field. I have been a working artist for a decade and have a stunning portfolio, but often I am overlooked [in] the application screening process since I lack a Bachelor’s degree.

The B.F.A Studio Art program grooms the working artist. In my final year, I will work closely with professional artists and have dedicated studio hours. It will teach me the boundaries needed to successfully raise my infant son as a single parent and work in an unconventional profession with opportunities for office hours and freelance work. I have always been a great student, as I maintain an above B grade point average, and I have received recognition and awards in both my educational and work environments. I would like to believe that hard work does not go unnoticed, and though we may face challenges, we can overcome them. I want my son to believe in himself as he believes in me.

Going to class for me is attending my studio. It is another place of work. I have found through the challenges of my past year it is also a place of retreat and healing. I have had a dormant interest in art therapy, and if I can achieve my short-term goals I can continue to believe that despite challenges, art is a constant and a place of serenity for healing. I would like to further pursue qualifications and responsibility in order to be part of the promise and promotion of creative expression in art therapy.

Carrie Taylor_My Sunshine_4x6_2015

“My Sunshine” 2015, 4 x 6 in. ©Carrie Taylor

Carrie Taylor_Daisy_4.25x5.5_2015

“Daisy” 2015, 4.25 x 5.5 in ©Carrie Taylor