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The Voice


The Voice

Sigma Tau Delta lecture series: Professor Sue O’Donnell talks art and memories

     The Sigma Tau Delta Theta Kappa Chapter hosted their Ervene Gulley Lecture Series on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 6 pm. The selected speaker was Bloomsburg University’s Professor Sue O’Donnell from the Art department.

     It was obvious to those in the audience that Professor O’Donnell prepared her fascinating lecture with a lot of heart. In her lecture titled, “Mapping Memories” O’Donnell shared her growth as an artist and gave multiple digital as well as physical examples of her work.

      Before and after the lecture, the audience was given the opportunity to touch and interact with some of her art, much of which falls the category of bookbinding.

      During the lecture O’Donnell explained how she gets inspiration for a lot of her work by reflecting on her memories. To highlight the importance of memory O’Donnell gave the audience a beautiful sentiment, “Memory gives us meaning, it makes us who we are.”

     O’Donnell then went on to recount her conversation with Anne Hamilton, an artist whose work she admires. Hamilton was at an art show where O’Donnell had her own piece “Return Path” on display.

     Hamilton had commented on her piece saying that it reminded her of breathing. “Return Path” is a linear representation of the time O’Donnell and her partner spent emailing back and forth after they met online. The rising and falling shape of the diagram is made up of the pair’s actual email exchanges with the text in a very small font.

     O’Donnell described Hamilton’s keynote speech from the art show and shared with her audience what Hamilton shared with her audience back then, “Pay attention to what you pay attention to.”    

     In explaining how her memories influence her artistic endeavors O’Donnell shared her memories regarding the loss of her husband, Mike. He had been a creative writing professor but was never open to sharing his poetry. After his passing O’Donnell finally read Mike’s writings and ended up memorializing his work in a book she made titled “I Call Across Time.”

     The well-designed book is an example of O’Donnell’s talents as an artist. In its left side corner, the book includes a flipbook of screenshots of Mike from a home-movie. It was that project along with the emotional time period following Mike’s passing that drove O’Donnell to go back to school at age forty-five for her MFA. She told the audience inspiringly, “You’re never too old to learn.”

      O’Donnell continued the lecture by sharing her thought processes and emotional connections to the artwork she shared during her presentation. She discussed one of her pieces titled “Session Sheets” which she created after attending therapy.

     O’Donnell shared that she noticed how loopy her therapist’s handwriting was and from there she developed the idea for her piece. Once she completed thirty therapy sessions, she scanned all thirty of the session sheets, added waves of pastel colors, and turned the once unartistic session sheets into blind emboss ultrachrome prints worthy of display.

     To end her lecture, O’Donnell left her audience with more insight as to how her memories consistently impact her artwork, “I revisit things a lot. Memories have a wat if coming back up and can be even stronger when they re-surface.” Thoughtfully, she added that what keeps her in the studio is recognizing how memories feed our paths and how they can tell us what direction to take.          


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Anna Jaskiewicz, Opinion/Editorial Editor

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