“Whether we are looking out at the world or looking inward at ourselves, we are always looking through the void within us, through the world, and through both light and darkness. This is a moment of uncertainty and possibility where we find ourselves alone, even if in reality everyone is still very close.”
For her solo exhibition Looking Through, Katelyn Wolary offered these words as a companion to her collection of portraits – both striking and bewitching. Capturing classmates with oil and wood panels, she offers us a glimpse of that moment. Her subjects are staring off at nothing, everything, present but only partially, alone yet connected to everyone else searching through the void.
Katelyn’s self-portrait for the exhibition? She’s looking through you. Not in a judgmental or apathetic way. It’s as if she knows something and is waiting for the right time to share. Perhaps she’s expecting you to have the answer. Either way, there is an air of gentle confidence, a sense that she’s comfortable in the moment if not content.
Already a painter and poet, Katelyn recently earned another telling title – Class of 2017 Valedictorian. Listening to her recount her time at the Art Academy, it is clear this honor celebrates more than her G.P.A.
Growing up in the comparatively small town of Wilmington, Ohio, Katelyn developed a disciplined focus and work ethic via her participation in athletics. But when one of her art teachers in high school saw her potential and encouraged her to connect with another artistically inclined student, Katelyn began directing that same attitude toward her artistic endeavors. Though her parents initially expressed the common concern about how she’d earn a living, they helped her dive into her new passion with vigor.
When her work in high school was recognized with an Ohio Youth Governor’s Art selection, she remembers Joe Fisher – then with AAC admissions – attending the ceremony. This kind of personal touch made a good first impression and continued to impress her once she’d decided to accept the AAC’s very generous scholarship.
“Paige Williams and Mark Thomas were my “Studio Art 1: CORE” instructors, which was the first studio experience I had as a freshman at AAC. Their instruction, support, and criticisms supported my desire to learn and work hard, and was one of my favorite classes throughout the last four years. I have so many good things to say about so many of my professors, it’s hard to know where to begin.”
Another one of those professors was Matt Hart. Katelyn credits his Aesthetics class for helping her consider and develop her own views and values. She also enjoyed letting both the athlete and artist run free in Matt and Paige’s Creative Running course.
Throughout her time at the Academy, Katelyn’s dedication and desire to stretch herself with opportunities within and beyond the AAC has translated into both a richer personal experience and public recognition such as the Helms Trust Scholarship.
“The personal connections and support within the AAC community, which extend far beyond the walls of the Art Academy building, have been one of the most rewarding experiences of attending AAC. For example, last spring, 21C Museum Manager and AAC alum, Michael Hurst, came around to the student studios to check out the work. Fortunately, he saved my business card and contacted me later in the fall for the opportunity to loan my work to 21C for their Elevated Art exhibit, which has been hanging for the last six months and features other local artists.”
Standing on the cusp of graduation, sharing yet another moment of uncertainty and possibility with her fellow graduates, Katelyn is very grateful for both her biological and AAC families. The support of both has played a big part in empowering a profoundly gifted, hardworking and humble artist.
An artist who is certain to make the most of her possibilities.