Allyssa Sowden

Illustration, BFA

Thesis Project

So much of our history remains untold. For this thesis, I decided to focus on some of this untold history. I discovered that every brilliant man, strong leader, and powerful king has had a woman behind him. Whether a mother, sister, friend, or wife, I was able to fill a book with the countless names of women who helped create famous men. Would Einstein have been able to create his theories without his wife, Milvea, sacrificing her career to watch their children? Would Alexander the Great have become king without his mother’s, Olympias, political decisions putting him on the throne? Would Tolstoy even be known to us without his wife, Sophia, editing his writing and helping him publish it?
My thesis retells lost parts of history. I used clippings of discarded, forgotten newspapers and junk mail to create portraits of all the women I selected. These portraits are used to create short biography cards, and they are also assembled together alongside longer biographies in the collector’s book I created. The final part of this thesis is a quilt creating a female gender symbol. The quilt is a larger version of the technique I used to create the portraits, and it is also a nod to the history of quilt making. Women have long created these functional works of art, yet they too remain in the shadows due to being “low” art. Their history deserves to be told.

Allyssa Sowden is a fine artist disguised as an illustrator. Classically trained in traditional materials before attending college, her degree in illustration has taught her to think about the design and commerciality of her art differently. Yet, the fine artist within stays close. Recently, atypical materials and methods have inspired a great deal of her work. She favors designs and processes that typically take more time including pointillism and stippling, multi-media work, collage, soft sculpture/sewing, and more. The line between fine art and illustration is hair thin, and she strives to walk it.

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