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Senior Spotlight: Carolyn Ciccocioppo Shares Her Honors Project

Carolyn C feature

Carolyn Ciccocioppo, C’20, is a double major in art and economics. Her senior honors project is titled From Brokenness to Redemption at the Well and includes drawings and sculptures inspired by the Samaritan woman at the well. Her work explores the theme of healing and invites viewers to reflect on the source and journey of that healing. Her exhibition was planned for early April but she was unable to showcase her work due to remote learning.

well-1-text.jpgAs a senior, what lessons have you learned from pursing an art degree?

I have learned so many valuable lessons as an art major. Aside from all of the skills and techniques, I have learned how to think creatively and solve problems. I have learned what it means to wrestle with, and overcome, failure. I have learned empathy, perseverance and how to be fully present in my work.

Explain your interest in wells.

When I first started brainstorming ideas for my honors project, I was really interested in the concepts of vessels, wounds, stillness, faith and a journey of healing. All of these ideas are culminated in the symbol of the well, which has been used throughout art history to represent a wellspring of life and a cleansing bath, especially as it relates to the Biblical story of the Samaritan at the Well in chapter four of The Gospel of John.

What inspired you about the Biblical story?

My Catholic faith is at the core of who I am and it often comes through in my artistic practice. Immediately, when I started thinking about the symbol of the well, I was drawn to that story.

She approaches the well in her sin, shame, anxiety, loneliness and brokenness. Jesus meets her in the darkness of her life, drawing her deeper into her wounds to find healing, and then calls her higher, offering life-giving water and eternal life. He is the source of her healing and redemption—and it is all based around the well, the source of life for the community.

Your work includes sculpture and drawings. Explain your use of materials, size and color.

I made the seven drawings on paper with compressed charcoal and water-soluble crayons. The compressed charcoal leaves a dense, dark mark showing our wounds and sin. The bold color of the water-soluble crayons represents faith and the place of the healing.

The materiality of the wells is very influential in the work. The contrast between the rough ordinary bricks to the smooth pure white plaster bricks shows a dichotomy of a soul before and after the healing encounter with Jesus Christ.

Why did you make two wells? What is the importance of the stagnant and running water inside them?

carolyn-text-3.jpgI chose to have two wells to visually demonstrate the interior transformation of a healing journey. In the story of the woman at the well, the woman comes to the well in her sin and brokenness at the hottest part of the day, isolated and shameful.

The first well composed of ordinary bricks with a dark base holds stagnant water. It represents a place of darkness, shame and wounds in each of us. When gazing down into the well, one sees a reflection of oneself, inviting the viewer to reflect on his or her personal places of darkness.

The second well is comprised of plaster bricks, a mirror and flowing water. This represents the woman after her healing encounter with Jesus. She is filled with the gift of living water and reflects Christ. The pure white and smoothness of plaster bricks shows the woman’s purity after she has been restored.

Talk about your process of casting each one of the bricks. How many were there and were you happy with the outcome?

The well with living water is made up of 48 plaster bricks, which I hand- casted. I have also loved the material and process of plaster casting and knew that was something I wanted to incorporate into my capstone honors project.

First, I built a mold box, which had several modifications over the course of casting with the help of my faculty mentor. Then, I had to mix the plaster with water, pour it into the mold box and let it set. Plaster as a material is a liquid, which becomes solid, similar to the way that the encounter with Christ and the development of faith becomes solid in one’s life.

carolyn-text-2.jpgExplain why you added mirrors at the bottom of both wells.

The mirrors at the bottom of the wells are meant to encourage the viewer to engage in personal reflection. Since the mirrors are on the ground, they reflect what is above—which is another way to connect the healing journey to faith.

Your work feels deeply meditative. How do you think about brokenness and redemption?

Everyone experiences brokenness, but it has the potential to be redeemed. Through compassion we can recognize the dignity of each person. Christ can redeem our brokenness and we can be better than we were before. It’s an opportunity for growth.

Is introspection required?

Yes, healing requires introspection. One must first reflect and acknowledge his or her personal wounds and hurts. So often we try to ignore them instead of drawing down to them.

Is there an element of hope in your show?

My show evokes hope for the healing of one’s deepest wounds. It is in the deepest places where one allows themselves to enter into and acknowledge the hurt where one finds healing. It is in that still, small place where we encounter Christ in the midst of our suffering.

Looking at your completed pieces now, is there anything you would change, hone, exclude, include?

If I were to do this whole process again, I would do the drawings on a heavier weight, higher quality paper, so there would be fewer wrinkles and I might make them on a larger scale to fill more of the gallery wall.

Do you have plans after graduation?

Not yet.

Please share some things you valued about the Mount.

I would like to give a huge shout-out to professor Nick Hutchings. I have had a class with him at least once every semester. He is my advisor, my honors project faculty mentor and the reason I am an art major. Thank you, Nick! These last four years at the Mount have been the best, from the friendships I have made to the caring faculty and staff. I have grown so much and would not be the same person I am today without the Mount.