Mt. Pleasant woman's 'autobiographical' art to be displayed
Before learning to write, Mt. Pleasant native Stacey Pydynkowski had already found her artistic muse.
As a young child, Pydynkowski said she would scribble drawings of friends and family with Crayola crayons. She would then describe the meanings behind her colorful renderings to her parents — Robert and Terri Pydynkowski.
“It was just kind of the cast and characters of my life. I was trying make sense of them that way,” said Pydynkowski, 21.
Over time, the mediums through which Pydynkowski has expressed herself artistically have become more sophisticated, but her mode of expression and message have remained a constant, she said.
“It hasn't really changed, I just try to make sense of my reality through creating these pieces, so it's been a continual process,” she said.
Pydynkowski's artwork will now be featured at the St. Vincent Gallery at St. Vincent College in Unity, where she is a senior on track to earn degrees in both studio arts and psychology in May.
The gallery will present the second of two senior exhibitions beginning Friday through May 6.
The exhibit, titled “Student Exhibition Two,” opens with a reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. today.
Gallery hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.
The gallery is closed on Mondays. Admission is free and open to the public.
Pydynkowski's work will be on display with that of fellow students Colleen Hanlon, an art education major from Hollidaysburg; Emily Latimer, a graphic design major from New Alexandria; Alex Policicchio, a studio arts major from Johnstown; and Brittany Reese, a studio arts major from Uniontown.
Pydynkowski's exhibit consists of a mix of oil paintings and fiber and wool sculptures produced from a loom which she said reflect her observations of the everyday activities of her fellow students, friends and family.
“I encourage others to reflect upon their own realities as they view my reflections personified in art,” Pydynkowski said.
“It's kind of a senior thesis for our majors,” Pydynkowski said.
As proof of that, she said her inspiration for her work is drawn in part from the content of her senior psychology capstone project titled “Neuroaesthics — The Science of Art.”
“With my personal exhibit, I'm inspired by people around me in my art, trying to express myself in paint when words fail me,” Pydynkowski said.
She said she eagerly anticipates exhibiting her work in tandem with that of her classmates.
“We kind of create this cohesive body of work between the four of us, so it flows,” Pydynkowski said. “We all have distinctive voices, we're trying to merge them into one complete body of work. It's pretty exciting, actually.”
And pretty surrealistic, she said.
“My work reflects all the people that surround me, kind of my observations of them psychologically,” Pydynkowski said.
Brother Nathan Cochran — the gallery's director and chairman of the college's department of visual arts — has contributed greatly to the work of Pydynkowski and her fellow students, she said.
“He's worked in this discipline for over 30 years, so he's very experienced. It definitely helps to have that knowledge base,” Pydynkowski said.
Cochran said Pydynkowski is an excellent student who maintains a quiet, reserved demeanor while letting her artwork speak for itself.
“Stacey has a unique vision that she has been working on the last year. Many of her works have autobiographical references, and deal very heavily with emotions, and I think that people, when they see it, will respond to her work quite strongly,” Cochran said. “We're very proud of the work that Stacey has put in this past year to really hone her skills and develop an artistic vision and voice.”
In addition, Brother Mark Floreanini, associate professor of visual arts at the college who is an expert in fiber art, has been a guiding force for Pydynkowski since her freshman year, she said.
“He's extremely encouraging in his instruction. He encourages me to use my own voice and to explore new mediums that I might not have even considered. I appreciate that, I really do,” Pydynkowski said.
Floreanini said that, once Pydynkowski learns a technique, she goes the extra mile to make it her own.
“For instance, in our fiber arts class right now, I had all the students working on small bead looms to create little wrist bands,” Floreanini said. “Stacey created an eye, and then, with a bigger loom, she actually did a face. She went online developed a pattern for this face out of these tiny beads.”
Pydynkowski also gained command of a discipline called needle felting, in which the artist packs wool to make structural shapes, Floreanini said.
“She made a self-portrait. She is a wonderful student,” he said.
A 2009 Mt. Pleasant Area graduate, Pydynkowski is a member of the Saint Vincent Phonathon staff, she also worked as a photography tutor and studio assistant for the art department and as a life enrichment intern for Emeritus Assisted Living of Latrobe.
A member of the dean's list, she was honored with membership in Psi Chi psychology honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta academic honor society and participated in the certified emerging leadership program.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.