Jaycee Shanholtzer Part 1: An Introduction to Self-Discovery

The art I created throughout my lifetime reflected on my constant change and documented my road to self-discovery, especially when figuring out my personal identity. The period before my arrival at Whitworth was a time when I felt consistently disassociated with what art I wanted to create. I was not fully cemented on what kind of artist I wanted to be, and often I felt almost unsure if I had the capabilities to create “good” art. Of course, now as a senior, I look back at my time here and see how unsure I was about myself in the beginning. This searching and recognition, understanding myself and my identity became a focus in my art. I wanted to create art on human identity, recognizing groups of people and presenting them to the world with normalcy. 

The first class I walked into at Whitworth was Rob Fifield’s Intro to Printmaking, and it was one of my first pushes into the art world. I immediately fell in love with the dry point method of printing, creating fine lines on plexiglass and being able to make multiple copies. It became a consistent medium I worked with, and it was one of the first mediums I became comfortable with. I have made a variety of prints with this method, presenting a variety of figures/subjects. 

Blossom, 2021, dry point on Stonehenge, 4×6 inches

I began focusing on developing my art style more, specifically working with illustration. I have always had a specific illustration style; I have considered it a more gestural/fluid style, but in the beginning it felt stiff. I wanted to take the time to further develop my style and build a stronger foundation. Dry point especially helped me work more with cross-hatching and create depth, I attribute this medium to my artistic development and how I got my current style. “Blossom,” was a point in my printmaking career that I began to feel comfortable with the medium.

Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, 2021, dry point on Stonehenge, 4×6 inches

I became increasingly inspired by the Renaissance period and found myself drawn to the era’s characteristics. I decided to create a print to show my appreciation for the era. I recreated a painting of the beheading of John the Baptist, specifically inspired by Andrea Solario’s depiction. I wanted to present the scene in my own visual style and present the subject matter in a more contemporary way, ridding it of female idealism. Specifically, when it came to depicting Salome as docile, I made her to be more expressive in this recreation. I wanted her to have more of a reaction to the bloody scene, rather than maintaining this docile image. This print began a string of renaissance recreations, leading to my most accomplished print to date. My magnum opus, “The Lovers.” 

The Lovers, 2021, dry point on Stonehenge, 15×11 inches

During this time, I was inspired by Renaissance idealism and the depictions of bodies. This print was inspired by Rodin’s “The Kiss.” (While not a piece created in the Renaissance, its depiction of bodies felt reminiscent of Renaissance idealism.) I felt so drawn to its visceral depiction of love and affection, that the couple would die for each other. They were bound together, the rawest form of connection. I wanted to recreate it and take some creative liberties. To recreate this artwork with a same-sex couple rather than a straight couple was reflective of my own journey. Growing up and seeing the art world void of lgbtqia+ representation was difficult, especially as a young person trying to understand her own sexuality. With “The Lovers,” I wanted to present this couple in love, with normalcy. With appreciation of their love regardless of their sexual orientation. 

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