Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The human form and the emotional possibilities of work based on the human body are explored in distinctly different but complementary ways by Rachel Turner ’08 and Emmanuelle Wambach ’08 in their senior exhibit at the List Gallery. The exhibit opens today and their work will remain on display in the List through Monday.
Rachel Turner’s work is focused on the human figure two-dimensionally, using oil stick, conte crayon, and make up. Her pieces include a selection from her couples, self-portrait, and make-up series. Each reveals her abilities with portraiture and form. The pieces from her couples series have a narrative quality, her self-portraits are emotionally charged, and her use of make-up creates striking effects with color.
Turner explained in an online interview, “Narrative and drama is a huge aspect of what I do, and I hope that it can draw viewers into the relationships and interactions going in within each series.” Turner’s portraiture attends not only to the details of the face but to the movement of line and shadow necessary to create both strong visual impact and an emotional charge.
The emotionality of her work is extremely compelling and the sensitivity of her life drawing suggests a strong interest in people and how they interact. After Swarthmore, Turner will work towards her masters in Occupational Therapy and intends to incorporate Art Therapy into her work.
Emmanuelle Wambach also attends to emotion and the human form though with a two-dimensional medium and a less realistic interest. Wambach’s work in clay involves the use of plaster casts, for which she is extremely grateful to her friends for “letting me cover them in plaster.”
Wambach’s pieces include a full-bodied mermaid, a tranquil Valkyrie, a broken robot, a series on war, and the infamous penis hotdogs (“People I don’t even know have seen the penis hotdogs.”) Wambach considers her strongest pieces to be those in which she invested her own emotional struggle in deciding whether she wanted to pursue medical or art school after Swarthmore. Though she has ultimately and happily opted for the latter, it is clear that the process was emotionally demanding: two pieces from this period depict a screaming face, one set upon a contorted neck, the other screaming into its own stethoscope.
There is a playful and whimsical attitude in many of her pieces which reflects many of her inspirations, including Robert Arneson, whom Wambach admires for his “really weird, incredibly funny” work in clay. Wambach is determined to show that “Clay can be more than bowls… not that I don’t love bowls and cups.” She also admires the work of filmmakers Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro; Wambach’s dream job would be working with one of these directors or following in the footsteps of Prof. Syd Carpenter and becoming an art professor.