Vulnerability on Display at PA's Art of the State
Keely Nilan ’22, a recently graduated communication studies major and art minor, was looking for a way to express how she felt about her mother.
“She’s always been this exemplary model of caretaking for me,” says Nilan. “I wanted to capture exactly how she expresses her love through these tender acts of service.”
Nilan exhibited her photographic work in “Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2022” at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. The winning image came from Nilan’s senior thesis, “Love Lines,” and showed her mother braiding her sister’s hair.
“Being one of the chosen submissions reaffirmed my belief that amazing things can come from hard work and a willingness to be vulnerable." - Keely Nilan ’22
The digital image is black and white, but Nilan playfully embroiders some of the highlights in the photograph to add color and texture.
“I wanted to be able to match the vibrance of the people I was depicting,” explains Nilan. “The embroidery aspect really helped me find that.”
Though it was a time-consuming process, embroidering each of the calm, black-and-white prints in her “Love Lines” series with these fun pops of color helped Nilan feel more connected to the art she was creating.
“Love Lines” was selected from nearly 2,000 submissions across the state.
“Being one of the chosen submissions reaffirmed my belief that amazing things can come from hard work and a willingness to be vulnerable," says Nilan.
The exhibit included 92 works of art by 92 artists from 31 counties of Pennsylvania. Finalists were selected from 1,850 entries from 542 artists. Selection jurors reviewed and scored all of the submitted works. Those with the highest ratings in each category were featured in the exhibition.