Four Wildcats display emotional vulnerability through paint brushes


Acrylic linen piece “Hilby Ave,” by Natalie Jenkins. Photo by Carrington Power, taken Aug. 25

California State University Chico students have partnered with CSU’s Art History Collective for a Metamorphosis Theme.

Allowing students to engage with one another, Chico State’s Art History Collective fosters a creative space for students to be visionaries through articulated and strong pieces of artwork. 

With a theme of Metamorphosis, Chico State’s Art Department collaborated with the art studio and art history students for an expression of emotional tenderness. The exhibit showcases a collective of interpretations of societal expectations of women, a sense of freedom and emotional conflicts. 

Located on the third floor gallery of the Bell Memorial Union, the displays of oil and acrylic pieces were done by four students: Zoey Farr, Gracie Gomes, Nataile Jenkis and Joel Solis. 

Growing up heavily influenced by art, Zoey Farr is a third year painting major at Chico State. Between experimenting with materials and branching into new abstract styles, Farr has always felt that painting can have a deeper meaning. 

“Painting has always been a place where I express myself … I felt a new sense of freedom in being able to play with paint and see what can come from that,” Farr said.

Farr submitted three expressions of art that depicted failed dreams, pushing societal norms of women and creating our own narrative. With acrylic/oil paint, Farr included materials like fabric, polaroids and glitter to bring authenticity to her own style of expression. 

The artwork the collective displays tells a story. A story about individuals who see transformation and realize that change comes with time. You might feel stuck in a specific stage in your life; a failed dream, treating yourself poorly or failing certain expectations. Yet, with transforming and changing, you soon will feel different. 

Pursuing her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts at Chico State, 21-year-old realist Gracie Gomes seemed to never grow out of her “10-year-old basic drawing phase.” 

Learning her own ways of expression through creating cartoons at a young age, Gomes’ artistic visions with paints were set in motion once she entered college. Experimenting with colorful acrylics, Gomes realized that the idea of giving up on perfectionism could only propel her in creating meaningful, straightforward pieces of artwork. 

Keeping the theme of Metamorphosis in mind, Gomes’ work centers on transformation and change. Gomes submitted “Diptych” pieces, two paintings displayed together, hoping they will be seen as one painting.

Gomes’ self portrait “Morning routine’” tells a narrative about one person in two different states, pushing the individual relationship between your body and appearance. 

“I kinda have this feeling whenever I put on makeup or a face mask, I think what am I doing this for? There’s this moment of having things on your face and a moment of aggressively scraping it off with a lot of aggression and anger,” Gomes said.

 Creating angst from trying to fix the impurities from your face or body, the aggressive action of wanting, or in this piece — washing something, can be anxiously tedious.

We can see the frustration and “need” to feel a certain way here. Whether it’s wanting to feel different about your weight or your skin, Gomes’ portraits display the emotional conflicts we internally go through every morning and night.

Each stroke, each correction and color was used in a specific way to emulate a particular emotion. The 11 pieces of well-thought-out artwork that were submitted showcase the challenges we individually, yet collectively share as people in a society, students or not. 

Thanks to this exhibit held by The Art History Collective, the strong voices Chico State students have echoed through art mediums are translucent and clear. Whether it’s the explosive technique on a canvas, or a well-lined silhouette, this collective truly entangled how many of us can feel.

Walker Hardy can be reached at [email protected] or at @wwhardy on Instagram.