The Humanities Center has added some new artwork to its formerly bare walls.
Last Wednesday, professors and students gathered in the Weitz Center as the Humanities Center unveiled the submissions to its contest, which judged student submissions of artwork that would decorate the bare walls of its new office space in Weitz.
The winning piece was also revealed, a stunning painting by Ellie Schmidt ‘14.
Students were asked to “create a work of art that represents your vision of the humanities.” The winner was promised a $100 cash prize as well as the “eternal fame” of having work displayed on the walls of the Humanities Center.
Schmidt’s painting explores what it means to be human. It features figures with animal heads and human bodies observing the famous statue, “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” as displayed in the Louvre.
With bright and vibrant oranges and reds, the painting is eye-catching. Against this backdrop, animal heads appear rather sinister on first glance, but by looking closely, one sees that the walls of the Louvre’s atrium are covered with quotes about the humanities.
“I am interested in the dividing line between human and animal, and I think that, to some degree, the humanities could be interpreted as all that distinguishes us from other creatures,” Schmidt said of the painting.
“Whereas animals may seek to investigate and understand the world, they would not be caught expressing themselves artistically. Therefore, most fundamentally, we are animals with religion, social history, literature, philosophy and art.”
The professors who make up the Humanities Center Advisory Board chose Schmidt’s painting as the winner.
Director of the Humanities Center Susannah Ottaway said Schmidt’s painting was selected because it “spoke to people in a variety of ways.”
She said the board especially liked the subject of the painting and her use of the quotes about the humanities, adding that the painting will be an enduring piece that will continue to speak to people for as long as it hangs in the Humanities Center.
Other student artists who submitted work to the contest were in attendance to see their work on display. Qwill Duvall ‘14 submitted an oil painting of the Greek god Atlas, as depicted with a female body.
“I’m really into gender and everything pertaining to it,” Duvall said.
“Atlas is usually seen as a stereotype of a masculine figure driving the world and humanities. I wanted to make people think by making him female.”