Ellen Hicks

Class of 2020

The process of painting is a cathartic process for me. After experiencing a difficult loss of a loved one during my sophomore year of college, I never fully returned to a state of peace. The death of my grandfather challenged my already-wavering Christian faith. Through repressing my experience, I continued to struggle as discretely as possible without drawing attention to this change in my mindset, as being vulnerable does not come naturally to me. Eventually, this pent up energy found a much-needed outlet through creating abstract art.

The act of applying oil paint to my canvases allows me to trust my own intuition and be vulnerable. I confront suppressed feelings by painting in abstraction. Abstract art provides the opportunity to symbolize personal content without exposing every detail through recognizable subjects. I explore the complexity of my experiences and my faith through applying paint using painting methods and mediums, like walnut alkyd oil and cold wax. Some reoccurring symbols in my art are the cross, contrast in paint finishes, and layers. These symbols may relate to my faith, connection to family, or the burden of loss. The titles of these pieces provide insight to my paintings, often in the form of a date or a word that the content of the work is related to.

When I paint, I am in a conversation with each canvas. There are ups and downs, times when I need to walk away, and when I need to be vulnerable. Each canvas focuses on an emotion or experience I have repressed over the past two years. As I paint, I must confront these emotions and experiences to create a piece I can connect with. These paintings satisfy my need to address loss, faith, and loss of faith. I encourage viewers to be open to making their own connections.



Biography

Ellen Hicks was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in January, 1998. Hicks, named after her great-grandmother Lula Ellen, has held strong familial ties her entire life. The lessons she learned from her grandparents, parents, and sister shaped who she is today.

Hicks is currently a student at Emory & Henry College and is expected to graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelors of Art (B.A.) in Studio Art and a B.A. in Mass Communications. As an artist and communicator, she learned how to explain art in ways that are exciting and accessible to people with various backgrounds of artistic understanding. In 2014, Hicks traveled to San Francisco, CA to attend a National Geographic Student Expedition under the teachings of Susan Suebert, a photographer for National Geographic Traveler. 

At Emory & Henry College, Hicks is a member of the school newspaper, The Whitetopper, where she serves as Website Editor, Head Photographer, and Business Manager. Hicks is a member of the Emory & Henry Honors Program, Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society, and Blue Key Honors Society.

Hicks works primary with oil paints on canvas. For the artist, abstract art provides the opportunity to symbolize personal content without exposing every detail through recognizable subjects. Reoccurring symbols in her art are crosses, contrast in paint finishes, and layers. These symbols relate to faith, connection to family, or the burden of loss.

In 2018, Hicks experienced the traumatic death of her grandfather which affected her Christian faith. Hicks’ paintings satisfy her need to face loss, faith, and loss of faith; however, she invites viewers to make their own connections to her pieces.

  • Ellen Hicks, Dismantled
    Ellen Hicks, Dismantled

When I paint, I am in a conversation with each canvas. There are ups and downs, times when I need to walk away, and when I need to be vulnerable.

—Ellen Hicks