“Dans I’attente” 2024, Oil on Canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

“Dans I’attente” 2024, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

March 14 – August 11, 2024

Studio art and communication studies major Ilissa McGowin ’25 is the newest Petrel featured in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art’s student-focused exhibition series, Oglethorpe’s Own.

Launched in 2023, this innovative series offers valuable professional development opportunities within the museum field while aiming to amplify underrepresented voices by providing student artists the opportunity to take ownership of an exhibition that tells their unique stories. One student artist is selected each semester and actively contributes to the curation process, ensuring their voices are heard and their perspectives are valued. From conceptualization to execution, students gain practical skills in exhibition preparation, including installation, layout, and framing.

As this semester’s featured student, McGowin served as both artist and curator, working closely with museum staff to present her uniquely personal show on view alongside several professional exhibitions through August 11, 2024.

The theme of McGowin’s exhibition is “memento mori,” a Latin phrase meaning “remember you are mortal.” It is a reminder that death, in its inevitability, is not something to be feared; life should be lived knowing that it will one day end.

The exhibition features seven works, each examining themes of life and death. McGowin employs several different mediums, including paint, sketch and even bones. “Dans l’attente” or “Waiting” is an oil self-portrait in which McGowin imagines herself in the future. A closer look at the painting reveals a book titled “The Power of Myth” — a publication she read in one of her Oglethorpe Core classes.

Hear from the artist about the process of curating her own exhibition as a student: