A & E, Campus

Life Influences Art: Profiles of Three Clark Artists

On June 5 Clark announced the Art Student Annual award winners: Angelia Rossberg, Kyle Pettyjohn, and Jessica Joner. They won the categories of Best Drawing, Best Photograph, and Best Ceramics and Best Painting, respectively. 

Angelia Rossberg won best drawing for her unapologetic and body-positive self-portrait, “I’m Not Your Beauty Queen.” Rossberg said her work is about self-love and appreciation. Like many women, Rossberg’s weight fluctuated over the years. She said she realized, “I wasn’t ever meeting the beauty standard that’s spoon-fed.”

 Rossberg said that when she was younger, popular figures like Ashley Tisdale and Avril Lavigne led young women to feel like that was the ideal body type. Rossberg talked about how she was emotionally vulnerable. “I grew up hating myself,” she said. “No one really talked about it.”

 “I’m Not Your Beauty Queen” shows that Rossberg now embraces her body. She says she’s really against beauty standards and the damage that they do. The portrait itself is a nod to an album cover of singer Lizzo. 

Of Lizzo’s inspiration, Rossberg said she admires how Lizzo is unashamed of her body. “It’s a big ‘eff you.’ That confidence resonated with me-how empowering that is!”

“The Three Evils” by Angelia Rossberg

The second piece Rossberg entered was another self-portrait, entitled “The Three Evils.” This work will also be featured in the Clark College Phoenix. She hoped it would reach out to a lot of situations for people who viewed it. 

Rossberg said it was originally entitled “Ignorance Is Bliss.” She said the piece covers so many things she wishes she’d said and things she should rethink. 

“It’s from a place of vulnerability,” she said. “We’re awful to ourselves (as women).” She pointed out that the hands covering the ears, mouth and eyes in the portrait are men’s hands. 

 

photo courtesy of Kyle Pettyjohn

A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, Best Photograph winner Kyle Pettyjohn started out with race cars. “I had a degree in high performance motorsports,” he said. Pettyjohn said that he has always leaned toward a more “extreme” lifestyle, including being a hardcore skier and riding 4-wheelers when he was younger.

While he was always interested in photography, after moving from the Global Rally Cross circuit to IndyCar, Pettyjohn left racing to pursue an engineering degree. But then it occurred to him, “Why not go for something I’m passionate about?” and he decided to pursue photography full-time. 

Pettyjohn said he dabbled in street photography but started out doing landscapes. He shoots everything manually. “I’m one with my camera,” he said. Pettyjohn admits that for every 200 photos, he gets one he really likes. 

photo courtesy of Kyle Pettyjohn

Of his award-winning photograph “The Diner,” Pettyjohn says the shot was not premeditated. He states he’s not the kind of photographer who constructs. He chalks the photo up to “Being in the right place at the right time.”

Pettyjohn was encouraged by several people to enter the photo into Art Student Annual, but never expected it to win. He said, “It’s great confidence moving forward in the future.”

 As a result of the pandemic, Pettyjohn says he’s grown as a photographer, and shifted to more of a documentary style. Along with documenting life as affected by COVID, he started attending and photographing protests. Pettyjohn said, “It’s kind of an adrenaline rush!” 

For a Photography class project, Pettyjohn put together a photo book entitled “Troubling Times.” Two photos from that book are shared above After his experience with documentary-style photography, he says he’s strongly considering exploring photojournalism. 

 

Dual-category winner (Best Painting and Best Ceramics) Jessica Joner has always loved the arts. As a teen, she went into music, playing the fiddle and performing in a Bluegrass band.

 When she had her first child at 20, Joner shifted more to visual arts. She said she designed elaborate birthday parties that she acknowledges probably meant more to her than the kids. 

When her youngest child was about a year old, Joner started a small photography business, which she ran for about ten years. She used earnings from the photography business to help cover expenses incurred adopting two daughters from Ethiopia.

 Joner said about four years ago, she took a pottery class at the Marshall Center. She said she felt something “brimming up” inside her that made her want to create even more. After a year or two doing pottery at the Marshall Center, Joner decided to enroll in Clark College’s Associate in Fine Arts program.

 Joner dove in, and quickly saw how conceptual the fine arts are. She said that one of the things that struck her was seeing how the various mediums “inform each other.” Joner said that studying fine arts “Forces me to think through ideas and what the art communicates.” 

Joner has a small ceramics studio in her garage, so she’s been able to complete many pottery pieces despite campus being closed. Of ceramics, Joner said, “It’s almost meditative in the process.” She says that ceramics is more like therapy and the other mediums are more like work. 

While her “Botanical Vases” collection earned the Best Ceramics award, Joner also won the Best Painting award for her piece, “Behind the Mask.” She was pleasantly surprised by the win, as she’d never really done oil painting before.

Joner will be moving on to PSU in the fall to get her Bachelor’s. She’s now motivated to get her Master’s in Fine Arts, and hopes to return to Clark to teach, or somewhere else at a college level.

 It is important to Joner that her daughters from Ethiopia see the beauty of women of color, and she wants to create art representing more African American women. Due to current events, her more recent projects integrate protests and racism.

 Joner recently painted a stirring 4-piece series that is a tribute to The Chronicles of Narnia, which features a young Black boy trying to process what’s happening in the world and going to a lion (a nod to Aslan) for comfort.

 Joner is grateful for quarantine right now, because it gives her a chance to have conversations with her children about what’s going on without influences from other school kids. She sees it as a safe environment where, as she says, “The noise is not as loud.”

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