Painting Liftin

Abby Ausherman, senior art education major, looks closely at “Recontextualized Book” and “Songs from Home,” art pieces both consisting of mixed media made in 2016 by Chelsea Litfin, graduate student in art therapy, Monday in the Bruder Theater Lobby. Litfin’s painting exhibit “Life of the Spirit” represents her “internal world” through a series of paintings and other artworks. 

The Art Department held an art exhibition of art student Chelsea Litfin’s works Monday in King Hall. Litfin, now a graduate student in art therapy, said her paintings and works explore the concept of worlds within people.

“The world inside someone can be anything from their personality to their emotions, the way they think and feel and their experiences,” said Litfin. “A lot of my work is focused on using symbolism to describe different elements of that.”

Hannah Thomas, graduate student in English and longtime friend of Litfin’s attended the exhibition to show her support.

“You look at her artwork, and if you know her, you can see her in the art,” Thomas said. “The light within her is spilling out on the canvas, and the hope that she has, and the beauty of her heart, it’s really amazing to see.”

Of her works presented in the show, Litfin favored two paintings named The Key, and Kindle the Flame, the latter of which portrays a girl standing in the ocean holding a flame, whom according to Litfin, is trying to protect the flame from all the chaos.

Thomas however favored two other works of Litfin’s, Within Reach, and The Journey, which according to Thomas, reminds her to stay strong in her faith.

“As a Christian, she and I have both talked about not wanting to get bogged down by everyday life, that we get distracted from the end goal of being with God and being in Heaven,” Thomas said. “Both paintings remind me that life is a journey and it’s a long process until we get there.”

The exhibition was titled Life of the Spirit, a title chosen by Litfin.

“I was trying to think of different ways to describe the inner world, the inner person,” Litfin said. “I like the description of the spirit as something that animates the body and gives life to a person.”

All of the paintings shown were produced by Litfin in her painting class, taught by Derek Wilkinson, associate professor of art.

“Her paintings have a very ethereal quality that seems to glow from within and it’s the process she’s developed over the years and it’s been great to see her mature,” Wilkinson said.

According to Wilkinson, Litfin was very sensitive for details and had a subtle touch with her brush strokes.

“One technique we used is where we use a warm underpainting and gradually build up layers of color that are a bit translucent so the warm underpainting shines through,” Wilkinson said. “I think she took that to another level.”

Litfin hopes to continue to paint and create new art while pursuing her art therapy degree, a program which Emporia State is the only Kansas university to offer.

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