Oil on Canvas

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This collage painting is 48 in x 30 in and composed of oil pastel and oil paint on canvas stretched over a cradled wood panel. Composed of fragmented and re-assembled imagery, the aim of this work is to reject the historical reductive, harmful, and primitivistic practices of representing the black female figure in Western art, further contextualized by the contrast in which white or european women were represented in art.


Hadara Willis, BFA (projected Spring 2024), painter and ceramicist.


Receiving the CREATE Microgrant allowed me to fully realize a concept that I had for a painting without constraint or concern as to how I would assemble the materials needed to realize my idea, particularly in regards to scale and the amount of material that would be required for a more ambitious piece. As a result of receiving this fund, I was able to extend more of my energy into curating the final composition. With this financial support, there were fewer stressors to possibly affect or hinder my creative process. I was able to dedicate more time and thought into my creative process, and important decisions made through the process of making were informed by a level head. As a result, my work feels more fully fleshed out, as I have been granted the freedom to freely assemble and create a piece that feels more carefully constructed. 

Creating art during COVID has taught me a lot about my own creative process. Isolation and limited contact with the rest of the world had major effects on my work and creative process. Being unable to interact with others organically, I was no longer collecting experiences and memories organically, leaving me feeling unfulfilled. In looking for forms of connection and entertainment elsewhere, I naturally turned to other sources for inspiration for my work as well. In addition to this shift in search for source material, I also took the time to look more into spaces, sources and material I may have missed or glanced over previously. 

I believe other College of Arts and Letters students would benefit greatly from such financial support as the Create Microgrant in the future. Receiving the grant helped to motivate my creative process, as my financial worries were largely nonexistent. Working with certain mediums does require a certain financial contribution that myself and others have struggled to make, which in turn can hinder the process of creating in more ways than one. The physical effects are most evident, as having limited access to materials will hinder the process. Secondary, but no less important, is the emotional strain as a result of harboring worries such as these. Resorting to different or non-conventional means of creation can indeed lead to interesting and possibly beneficial discoveries, but I believe that students should have the option to engage in the process of creation this way, rather than it being the only choice.