Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast senior shares her deepest struggles through art

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Southeast senior art education major Madison Ellers explores body image and promotes body positivity through her art.
Photo by Katya Chronister ~ Arrow Reporter

Madison Ellers is a young artist who is using her work to express her body image issues in hopes of helping others.

The Chicago area native was Catapult Creative House Student Studios’ Artist of the Month. The work shown in the exhibit called, “Among the Flowers,”: is a visual representation of the deep struggles she had with her body image.

“I’ve had a really long journey throughout my life with coming to terms with my body,” Ellers said. “In high school it used to be really bad. I would think about starving myself and throwing up all the time; it consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t get through a day without hating my body and just focusing on it and crying about it.”

Now a senior at Southeast, Ellers said the pieces for the exhibit started with a project from her printmaking class during her junior year when she had to create a self-portrait.

“I thought, ‘What if I use this project as a way to confront this issue, and use it as a way to communicate that issue to other people,” Ellers said. “That was when I was in an OK-ish place with my body. I wasn’t thinking about starving or throwing up anymore, but I was still deeply uncomfortable.”

Through making art about her body image, Ellers said she grew tremendously in how she saw herself.

“By making art where I am the art piece and my body is the subject, I could see myself through a less critical lens and see myself in a way that I view art. I think that was a very helpful way to see myself differently,” Ellers said.

In her self-portrait piece it depicts her from the back where she is sitting down and you can see the rolls in her back, which is something she was self conscious about.

Ellers did not get serious about art until right before she came to college. She had always drawn, but mainly focused on depicting clothes and thought about becoming a fashion designer, yet she did not take her first art class until her senior year of high school. This was when she knew art was for her.

“I just got really obsessed with it. Then I thought I could really so something with this, and that’s how I decided to really invest myself fully into it,” Ellers said. “I regret not taking more art classes in school, but everyone has a different path throughout high school.”

Ellers decided on art education as her major upon coming into SEMO and has not wavered from that. Once she began taking more advanced art classes and got further and further into her program, the more she fell in love with it.

“I’ve always wanted to do a career where I help people,” Ellers said. I was trying to figure out how I can take my passion for art and my want to help people in my career, and combining them into art education seemed like the best way to do that.”

Ellers is continuing to work on exploring body image through art.

“Now with my art I’m still continuing to do things about my personal issues with my body image, but I also want to focus on body image as a society and women in general,” Ellers said.

Ellers is a member of the National Art Education Board on campus and serves as publicity chair. She was heavily involved in Pride on campus, but due to schedule conflicts, has had to step away from that group.

Ellers begins student teaching and graduates next semester. After which, said she plans to move back home to Crystal Lake, Illinois and find a teaching job, hopefully at a high school.

Ellers said she loves art education and wants students to express themselves in ways they do not get to in other classes.

“When I’m teaching art I’m not trying to make a class full of artists; I’m trying to make a class full of critical thinkers and lifelong learners,” Ellers said. “I get excited about getting students to think deeply through art and find things about themselves.”