Painting a Senior Project

I started with the second class at Kirkland ('73), but graduated in 3 years, i.e. with the first class ('72), partially thanks to lots of AP credit, partially to taking an extra class each semester. I had taken no art in high school (that was for non-college bound students!), though I had taken some summer camp art programs and after school activities. I just started sketching and doing watercolors around campus, and when I decided toward the end of freshman year that I wanted my concentration to be in painting, I had my work cut out for me! The only helpful class I had taken that first year had been modern dance - considered a cognate. So I had 4 semesters to get in all my art classes and do my senior project. I took 4 studio art classes at the same time - drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture one semester. It was a total immersion, which I loved. I had Eli Friedensohn assigning contour drawings in which we weren't allowed to lift our pencil, and Peter Ostuni only letting us paint the horizontal and vertical lines of the live model. Two totally different ways of seeing - but they both agreed, "You will do it my way, and if you don't like this style, then you will have something to rebel against when you start looking for your own style - later!"

I also took Art History (across the road) and became fascinated with The Fauves, especially Matisse. I chose that expressionism for my senior project. I had also fallen in love with Michael (H '71) and we got married when he graduated (40 happy years next month!), and we lived in an apartment down the hill that came with a bay window full of plants. I used that as my subject matter, and did a series of drawings and paintings, progressively more abstract, culminating in a cut paper collage. I kept a journal - which my committee was NOT impressed with - but they loved the progression of the works, and I acquitted myself much better verbally about the process, so my project was a success, the exhibit went well, and the cut paper collage was accepted into a juried art show in Cooperstown NY.

One wonderful memory is of being befriended by the women of First Floor Major Hall. I was given a storage room in their basement as my senior project studio, and they brought me samples of goodies they were baking and welcomed me up from the dungeon, providing tea, companionship, and encouragement whenever needed.

I didn't stay a painter. I found a place to continue pottery (of which I had 2 semesters during those 2 intense years) when we moved to Philadelphia after graduation, and went off in that direction, though I still do some painterly decorating on my pots!

Susan (Shyan) Delahanty

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