Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only


Studio Fine Arts

First Advisor

Laini Nemett




Visual art; oil painting; community; Schenectady; local; BIPOC stories; service


In this paper, I will reflect on my visual art thesis painting project, going more in depth about the process, my inspiration, and my subjects. For my project, I wanted to highlight individuals from the Schenectady area that have experienced adversities but have chosen to give back to the community despite them. As a result, I created 4 large scale portraits of people of color who live and work in Schenectady, New York. I met with and interviewed Sherain Rivera, Sookyung Lee, Will Rivas, and Jamaica Miles. The four of them serve and are very involved in their community in multiple ways. Talking with them gave me the opportunity to learn more about them and their stories of determination. The purpose of this project was to give them, and more broadly, the marginalized communities in the Capital Region more representation in a space where they have felt ignored and discriminated against. Throughout this paper, I explain my process of learning to paint with oil for the first time, the struggles I faced with making large scale portraits, and my inspiration for the project. I also discuss three professional artists that influenced my work along the way: Jordan Casteel, Amy Sherald, and Alice Neel. Lastly, I give a brief description of each of the personalities and stories of my models, and connect them to the larger purpose of my work, which is to invoke empathy within my viewers.


Rights Statement

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.