The Cason McDermott Art Gallery in Goodwyn Hall is pleased to present “Space: The Final Frontier,” an MLA Thesis exhibition in Painting and Drawing by graduating student Jessica Roy. Completed under the supervision of Professor Andrew Hairstans, the exhibition is open from May 3, 2021 through the summer.
In preparation for creating this body of original work, Roy completed historical research on mid-twentieth century visual culture depicting the Space Race between the USA and USSR published in popular sources, such as TIME and LIFE magazine. For her MLA Research Methods class, supervised by Dr. Naomi Slipp in spring of 2020, Roy considered how 10 important moments from the Space Race were pictured for general audiences in the USA and USSR.
Titled “The Space Race and How Images Effect the Way History Remembers It,” she concluded the research paper by noting that while “this is but a small collection of the images that show one of the most exciting times in recent history … [they] tell a story of how people came together to support their country’s mission to be the first in space and on the moon. These images were used to spark the imaginations of people everywhere, as political propaganda, and as a record of what happened. From this, we learned how to work together to go even farther. There is now a new space race to reach mars!”
For the exhibition, Roy then selected 26 significant moments in the Space Race and replicated these iconic popular images in watercolor painting. For the project, Roy spans four decades, beginning the series with “the discovery of the dwarf planet Pluto and end[ing] with Neil Armstrong’s footprint on the moon.”
In her artist statement, Roy explains how she approached painting an illustration of “the USSR’s Vostok 1. This is a watercolor on 9 by 12 inch watercolor paper with acrylic accents. The background is done with the sponge technique to give the painting more of a dimensional quality to it and has stars that are made with acrylic paint. The main part of the painting, the Vostok 1 is done by brush in historical colors.”
As she explains of her inspiration, “This topic was chosen because of mine and my family’s love of space, and the drive to help children learn how the human race conquered space … I have chosen to illustrate historical points on the space timeline to the best of my ability with the medium of watercolor. I would start with an image … choose the important aspects of it, so that it would not lose its meaning. Finally, with inspiration from art works of Jane Mills and Robert T. McCall, I would paint my image.”
Roy, who is also a Museum Studies Certificate student, recently completed an internship at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, where she worked with the education department to catalog, condition report, and organize the MMFA Student Art Collection (SAC). At the conclusion of her internship, she selected and hung some of her favorite SAC artworks at the museum. She parlayed those gallery installation skills into her own exhibition, which she arranged and hung herself.