COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech University’s Appalachian Center for Craft is currently hosting an exhibition of portrait drawings, “There Will Come a Time,” by artist Michelle O’Patick-Ollis, which will run until Feb. 23.
O’Patick-Ollis’ collection depicts the changes and challenges that occur during the aging process. The artist creates psychological portrait drawings that capture both the outward appearance as well as the inner state of mind of her parents. The drawings tell stories of a mother with Parkinson’s disease and a quadriplegic father, enduring the winter of their lives.
Although the stories are personal in nature, they speak to a wide audience. Anyone who has watched a family member grow old, and become imprisoned within their withering bodies, can have an understanding of and emotional connection to the work.
“As I watched my parents decline, I desperately wanted to help them. I wanted to make them happy again. Although I couldn’t do that in reality, I can do that in my artwork,” O’Patick-Ollis said.
“Mom Has Parkinson’s” is a drawing where the artist depicted her mother smiling and dancing. Six arms wave back and forth, and the body appears to be swaying from side to side.
“In truth, it is a depiction of how my mother’s body would move as she spoke,” O’Patick-Ollis said. “The more she concentrated on what she was trying to say, the more her body jerked back and forth.”
The artist is able to depict her parents in a way where they seem to be at peace or joyful, yet upon closer inspection, the viewer is able to see a visual hint to the truth of the situation.
O’Patick-Ollis is an art teacher at Indian Trail Intermediate School in Johnson City, Tennessee. She received a Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts in teaching from East Tennessee State University.
Her body of work consists of mixed media pieces. Painting with different strengths of coffee, she blocks in large areas of her images first and then draws on top of the paintings with sepia toned pencils and graphite.
The Appalachian Center for Craft is located at 1560 Craft Center Dr., Smithville.