Senior art major Jamie Ellis prepares to hang her work in the Multicultural Center in Old Main. Her show opens Oct. 20.
"I collected so many souvenirs that I had to abandon clothing all over Europe," Jamie Ellis said of her travels this summer.
She brought back a trunk full of experiences and enough artwork to fill several walls. Ellis, a senior art major at UNC Pembroke, will exhibit her European works at a one-woman show beginning Sunday, Oct. 20 at the university's Multicultural Center in Old Main.
The show is titled "Sieh um Dich," which is German for, "Look Around You." The opening and gallery talk is scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m., and an informal reception is Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 10 a.m.
"What viewers will be looking at are my memories, my interpretation of what I saw," Ellis said. "I think they are more informative than snapshots."
The show consists of 27 works painted while traveling in Ireland, England, Germany, France and Spain. Two painting are oil and the remainder is watercolors. The show is open during business hours and will hang indefinitely.
"The work is the result of how the environment interacted with me," Ellis said. "I sat on crumbling walls. Isat in things and on things and places I shouldn't have, including an anthill. And I met some strange and nice people."
"I had never painted in watercolors, but that was the best medium for travel because it is so portable."
Ellis studied at Padagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg in Baden-Wuttenberg, Germany. The university is near Stuttgart, an industrial and cultural center in a region dotted with historic castles and churches.
Ellis studied German, French and art for a semester that stretched from March to August.
"The art classes were taught in German, which was challenging, but my painting instructor was brilliant," she said. "He taught me watercolor techniques I never could have learned on my own."
Study abroad presented many challenges for Ellis, missed trains, lost luggage, paperwork snafus and ever-present language barriers.
"I had nine roommates and only one spoke much English," she said. "I took German, one-on-one with a tutor, and that went really well."
"My German was put to the test when I missed a connection on a train trip in Spain and went to 11 stations over 26 hours," she said. "A young German helped me out."
Challenges aside, Ellis said she would do it again, and it was a valuable experience for an artist, both artistically and personally.
"It gave me some really neat memories," Ellis said. "You see pictures of these places, but I wanted to see the center of Western art for myself."
She went to many art exhibitions, museums and famous sites, but a particularly important journey - or pilgrimage - stands out. It was to Trinity College Library in Dublin to see the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illustrated manuscripts in the world.
"The Book of Kells has always been an important influence on my work," Ellis said. "That was like my journey to Mecca."
This was in many ways a journey of becoming for a young artist.
"Art is drawn from experience, so you must experience as much as you can," Ellis said. Her advice to other artists and students, "Go and feel, whatever will develop your style."
"I wanted to make the most of it, and I think I did."