Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast students expresses herself through ancient art technique

Monday, February 18, 2019
Erin Higgins untitled piece showcases her wet drapery technique to metaphor hidden feelings to religious beliefs.
Photo by Naisha Tobias ~ Arrow Reporter

When Southeast senior, Erin Higgins grabs her smock and sits down behind a pottery wheel she is in a zone. A zone where she creates thought-provoking sculptures and space she can go to express herself. The art major utilizes the wet drapery technique, derived from ancient Roman and Greek sculptures, to express herself in the best way she can.

Her interest in Roman art and her background in Catholicism affects her latest piece — the bust of a woman, with much of the face covered by a cloth. Higgins utilizes the wet drapery technique for the cloth making it appear wet and stuck to the sculpture. The piece is untitled.

“The cloth is a metaphor for hiding or being suppressed, in this case by religion. There are a lot of bad things going around with the Catholic church right now,” Higgins said. “It’s not only that but things I have been questioning in my religion as well, so it’s all suppressed right now.”

Wet drapery technique shows how the cloth appears to stick to the face of the sculpture.
Photo by Naisha Tobias ~ Arrow Reporter

The piece is influenced by two Catholic pieces of art, La Pieta and Ecstasy of St. Teresa, that utilize similar techniques.

Higgins utilizes the wet drapery technique she learned from the ancient Greek and Rome portion of the class an AP art class she took in high school. Higgins said works using the technique are detailed, which is why she made the style her own by incorporating it into her work — which includes mainly mugs and busts.

Although Higgins has her own meanings behind her work, she leaves interpretation to the viewers. She wants them to relate to her pieces with their own problems rather than to be confined within just one interpretation. She said she enjoys making art that people are engaged in and can’t help but to ask questions. “Is she sad, is she happy, is she drowning, is she being reborn?” She calls it the "what-if factor."

A sculpture she created her sophomore year had that “what-if factor.” It’s a hollow dress that utilizes the wet drapery technique. The exterior is a detailed white lace dress that could be seen in a bridal shop window. The interior, shown through the back of the dress, resembles molten lava. She said she wanted viewers to make up stories for themselves.

“I like people looking at something and there be one little aspect that makes them go ‘What does that mean?’” Higgins said.

Higgins said she considers herself private by nature and it shows in her work because many of her sculptures hide certain aspects and it shows how she needs to reveal herself more.

“It does reflect in my art because it shows hiding and how I do need to reveal something,” Higgins said.

In December, Higgins plans to graduate with a BFA in art with an emphasis in ceramics. It wasn’t until she changed her degree from graphic design to a BFA in art, that she found her calling.

Higgins acknowledged the challenges she might have to face to make a good living, like never getting a job or living broke from time to time. She sees those challenges and realizes that is what motivates her.

“This is my life. This is something I constantly think about and want to do. I will get frustrated a lot and things will go wrong but it’s still something I always come back to because it’s my happy place,” Higgins said.

She believes that if you have to do something for the rest of your life, you should enjoy doing it. Even when she isn’t making expressive art for a class she said likes making more personal pieces on her own time.

“Throwing on the wheel and having that focus is just relaxing because you're not focused on anything else,” Higgins said.

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