Originally published on March 1, 2019 in The Holcad Student Newspaper.
Senior Fine Art majors Kailey Liverman and Elisabetta Pontillo are currently showcasing their capstone projects in Patterson Hall’s Foster Art Gallery. The exhibition will last until March 20 and includes Liverman’s watercolor and ink series, “Growth & Healing: Disassociated,” as well as 5 sculpture pieces by Pontillo.
Liverman’s project consists of nine watercolor and ink pieces. The centerpiece showcases a brain that is surrounded by and filled with natural elements. The remaining eight outer pieces feature a technique in which the ink and watercolor are visually offset from each other. Liverman explained that “this offset is visually representative of how mental health can impact an individual, disassociating them from their identity and true self.”
The title of her series, “Growth & Healing: Disassociated,” is inspired by Liverman’s interpretation of the healing process, which she has witnessed firsthand with clients handling mental health issues.
Liverman’s experiences as an intern for the Loudoun County Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Services (MHSADS) inspired her to create these pieces. “The subject matter of this collection derives from therapeutic counseling techniques or psychological disorders and the correlated symbolism found in nature,” explained Liverman.
Each of her compositions involves some aspect of nature that represents the therapeutic theme of each piece. For example, Liverman shared that, in one piece, she used yellow carnations because they represent regret and disappointment. In another, she used horehound because it represents healing. “The subject matter of nature was chosen to represent the healing process in mental health because, like people, plants must grow to survive, even after suffering harsh conditions,” Liverman said.
Liverman graduated this past December and will now be studying at John Hopkins University in order to receive her Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She hopes to integrate art therapy skills into her future career when such skills are applicable to her clients and patients.
Pontillo’s project consists of five sculpture pieces based on people who have impacted her life and helped her to identify herself as an individual and an artist. Pontillo explained that she “chose to make sculptures representing the people who have taught me that it is okay to be authentically me.” Each piece includes a special item that symbolically represents the person and incorporates the flower of the person’s birth month.
The first of Pontillo’s pieces is a cake titled “Luigi,” which she created with plaster, playing cards, and a silver plate. The piece symbolizes Pontillo’s father, who taught her how to bake and play cards.
The second piece is titled “Elisabetta,” and was made for her grandmother. The piece is a colander hanging on the wall, decorated with flowers made of plastic spoons and forks. Pontillo shared that her grandmother “always made us wash all the plastic silverware growing up.”
“Palma” is Pontillo’s third piece, which hangs beautifully from the ceiling. A hair diffuser showers pink fabric down a fishing line in representation of Pontillo’s mother, who is a hairdresser and likes to quilt.
The fourth piece, “Vincenzo,” is an Xbox controller garnished with a flower made out of broken CD shards. This one is for Pontillo’s brother, who used to play video games with her as a child.
The fifth and final piece is titled “Agostino” and hangs on the wall next to “Elisabetta.” The piece incorporates beer cans and a cheese basket in order to represent Pontillo’s grandfather, who was quite the jokester.
Both women shared that the hardest part of their projects was coming up with the perfect concept that encapsulated their artistic ability while also sharing something meaningful. The hard work and dedication that these women have put into these projects is evident from the quality and complex symbolism of each piece. It is truly amazing to see such wonderful talent coming from our very own Westminster College.