UCF alumni Gabe Cortese ’17 and Sheherazade Thenard ’18 have work featured in the Orlando Science Center’s Fusion: A STEAM Gallery through April 23. In their exhibition, “Identity and the Landscape,” Cortese and Thenard investigate figuration within an idealized landscape to explore complexities of their respective identities.
Thenard is a figurative artist based in Orlando. She graduated from UCF with a BFA in Fine Arts Painting and a B.A. in Visual Arts and Emerging Media Management.
“For me, a landscape painting is not merely a visual representation of the world,” says Thenard. “It is a metaphor for the human condition. I paint to try to make sense of the fragility of our world, the passing of time, and our shared experiences of light, color, and space. The incorporation of figures within my paintings are often swallowed or hidden by their constructed lush surroundings.”
Thenard says her connections with UCF were critical in being invited to exhibit work at the Science Center. “Since graduation I’ve kept a close relationship with UCF’s art community by volunteering at the UCF art Gallery, attending pop up shows and exhibits, and critiques. Through this, I was able to get to know Shannon Lindsey the gallery director better who would eventually present this opportunity (Identity and the Landscape) to Gabe and me.”
Marketing Coordinator Hannah Estes had a chance to ask Thernard some questions:
Tell me about your work- what mediums do you use, subject matter?
“At UCF I started my series in acrylic, but my post graduate work is transitioning into oil paint. I paint to try to make sense of the fragility of our world, the passing of time, and our shared experiences of light, color, and space. The incorporation of figures within my paintings are often swallowed or hidden by their constructed lush surroundings. Painting the land and its inhabitants continues to be a way of engaging with the strangeness of being here. The undercurrent themes of mysticism, escapism and fantasy are reoccurring within my pieces. Through these works, I aim to create psychological spaces paired with hidden symbolism integral to the understanding of each painting.”
What do you want viewers to take from your work?
“In this body of work, I’m working with a psychological element of escapism by depicting it in created landscapes. Often there is a fantasy element whether it’s through heightened colors, the use of mysticism or symbols. In this body of work I want to draw a sense of empathy for these figures caught in their lush surroundings.”
What’s next for you?
“After a year off from school, I decided to fill out grad school applications and have recently accepted an offer with UCF. I’m excited to enter this program because the group of professors running the program are incredible and I’m looking forward to developing my concepts as a grad student.”
Visit the Orlando Science Center’s Fusion: A STEAM Gallery through April 23 to view these works. For more information about Fusion: A STEAM Gallery and the hours of operation, visit: www.osc.org.