Art student spotlight: Courtney Powell

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 at 5:39 PM
Art student spotlight: Courtney Powell by Livia Homerski
Photo: Courtney Powell

Senior art student Courtney Powell has always found joy in working with jewelry, even starting her own jewelry business with a few friends at the age of 7. Her desire to create ultimately led her to pursue a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in metals at Edinboro University. 

Powell has not always been so steadfast on her path to be an artist. There was a period of time in high school where she decided to focus her efforts on other career paths, such as being a veterinarian or a biologist. However, she kept making jewelry in her free time, and her first breakthrough came in the form of an intricate necklace she made in high school.

“When I was in the 10th grade, I made a necklace of beaded bezels. Each bezel probably took me an hour to make, and when you wrapped [it] around your neck, it went the whole way down your back. That was the one piece where I went, ‘Yep! That’s what I want to do!’” 

Despite this “aha moment,” Powell continued to study for a possible career in biology. The pressure began to settle in, and during her junior year in high school, she abandoned this idea and returned to art. However, not all was lost in this period, as it provided inspiration for Powell’s later projects. 

Powell’s inspirations include micro-organisms and seed-pods.

“We used to venture to the lakes and bring back organisms to look at under the microscopes. When I started school here, I kept doing work that reminded me of that. I started my new body of work and decided to continue to use them as inspiration for when I was making my ‘creatures,’ because they’re so durable. They’ve survived ice ages and fires. I’m making work about my family, so I want them to be able to withstand anything.” 

Her favorite seed pod is the “Love-in-a-Mist” from the Mediterranean region. She added: “I don’t really have a favorite micro-organism. I normally get my shapes or ideas of how my creatures might move [from there].”

For many artists, when they create, they get into a zen-like head space where their motions become rhythmic and nearly second-nature. When Powell creates her work, she gets into this zone by focusing on the smallest details and finding comfort in the repetitive motions. 

She explained: “A lot of my work is tedious and has a lot of parts. It’s meditative — maybe therapeutic almost? It’s just very enjoyable.” 

Powell’s post-graduation plans include opening a studio from her grandmother’s basement in Wexford. She is working towards a goal of eventually owning her own business, but would also like to continue building a strong body of work to display in galleries and similar spaces. 

“Seeing both sides of business and art, art allows you to be hands-on and personal with your work. It’s a more personal way of life. In a different sense, it keeps your head moving and thinking and always wanting to explore more.” 

Livia Homerski can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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