For Amanda Cruickshanks, a senior art and design major at Shippensburg University, creating art is something that encompasses many of her oldest and fondest memories.
“Whenever I was really young, my grandma — well, I call her my ‘Mimi’ — she painted on the fungi that grew on trees,” Cruickshanks said. “She would find them and she would dry them out and then she’d paint on them really intricately.”
While Cruickshanks has clung to these moments from her childhood, art has become more than a fond memory, but one that grew with her.
Cruickshanks remembers being assigned a drawing project in her high school art class, and when she was working on it, something switched in her mind. She carried the sheet of drawing paper with her on a large clipboard, and during lunch and any other spare time she had between classes, she intently sketched and erased.
“I just poured all my time and energy into it,” Cruickshanks said.
It was in that moment when she realized art was more than just a hobby, rather, something she wanted to study and make into a living.
While drawing is where her artistic roots lie, Cruickshanks enjoys all mediums of art that let her get her hands dirty, including painting, sculpture and mixed media. She has been experimenting more lately with mixed media, which will be her focus in the senior exhibition in April.
“I did a collage a couple years ago for a class, and then I didn’t do it again until this past winter break, and I fell in love with it again,” Cruickshanks said. “So I really wanted to incorporate that with painting. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough with just painting or just the collage, so I just mashed them together.”
Cruickshanks’ experimentation with collage and paint can be previewed in her senior solo exhibit, which is on display in the SU Brindle Gallery through Thursday.
Cruickshanks is a fan of Claude Monet, and classifies most of the work she creates as surrealist, abstract and expressionistic.
“Lately, my work explores the daily motivation to live life to the fullest, and not to be afraid to take chances and go new places and be by yourself,” Cruickshanks said.
Living the message that her artwork explores, Cruickshanks refers to herself as a traveler and has plans to move to Denver, Colorado, shortly after graduating in May.
While she, like most graduating seniors, admits feeling uneasy as the final months wind down, she is excited rather than afraid of what the future holds, because she knows art will help her find her way. It always has.
“I hope that my art takes me into new places where I can meet new people and new artists and continue to be influenced by them, and just be in a really awesome environment. That’s pretty much my goal. And to be happy,” Cruickshanks said.