A Portrait of the Artist in Isolation

From SRQ Magazine, May 1, 2020
The artist works alone. The artist may on occasion observe their solitude, but they do not wander into the despairing perception of loneliness. Alone by choice, the artist probes the creative ether that resides somewhere between the mind’s eye, the body’s state of tension and the hand’s contact with a canvas. Within this ether dwells the portrait of the artist, their tastes and predispositions, their desires and anxieties, surfacing from time to time like quantum particles to present ideas in varying stages of completion—a color palette, a mood, perhaps even flashes of a work in its entirety. For two New College art seniors putting the final touches on their senior theses, the isolation induced by COVID-19 has affirmed rather than hindered their journeys-in-progress, as each seeks to extract their own commentary on mental health issues enflamed by the pandemic.
For Samantha Zellner, the whole argument for her thesis crystallized around the same time that restaurants and schools shut down. “I knew I wanted to combat the stigmas surrounding mental illness,” she says, “but soon realized those are very broad topics.” With the pinch of approaching deadlines, she finally narrowed her topic to a reexamination of society’s “quick fix” approaches to mental illness. Zellner chose to challenge the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” narrative often depicted in stereotypical motivational posters. The titles for her pieces all fit the codified format of said posters—a constructive character trait followed by a truism about that trait. “The quotes can present a helpful mantra,” she says, “or could invalidate the individual with mental illness.” She attacks this narrative particularly effectively with her painting, Character: When You Have Depth of Character, You Will Never be Afraid to Take the Plunge into the Unknown. The sharp protrusions in the foreground seem to offer a thorny passage through to an altered state, suggesting that perhaps overcoming an emotional hurdle is not as simple as a short maxim.
Read more here.


Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is the state's only legislatively designated Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in liberal arts and sciences, a master’s degree program in data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

Inquiries about this article can be made to 941-487-4157 or to email us.

Do you know of an event or story we should share? Tell us about it.

Related News

Campus News

Alumna to explore the world (and paint it)

October 18, 2020

New College alumna and visual artist Danielle Dygert shipped out last week for a six-month-long cross-country trip with her dog--to…

In the media

New College of Florida takes strict action to keep students and staff safe from COVID

August 11, 2020

From WTSB, August 10, 2020 “We’re just trying to do the best mitigation of the virus spread as we can.”…

In the media

COVID reopening plan caps a tumultuous year for New College of Florida

June 25, 2020

From Florida Phoenix, June 24, 2020 New College of Florida, in Sarasota, had its fair share of challenges this year…