Kaitlyn Murphy’s senior art exhibit explores the people and places that make up her Wheaton experience.
A Note from the Artist
Visualize Wheaton is a combination of colored pencil drawings and graphic design work that together capture some of the people and places that make up Wheaton College.
As the culmination of my artistic study in college, I wanted my show to represent what the college experience has meant to me. I know that the growth I have experienced is not limited to my own story, but is true for so many others.
The greatest impact on my time at Wheaton has been the people who make up our community, and more specifically, the way God has worked through them to impact my understanding of Him.
The people portrayed in this show represent a variety of aspects of our community. From the dancer who through chapel opened my eyes to another form of worship, to the professor who demonstrates each day what it means to walk faithfully with Christ, to the students who portray the power of growth in true community, my work is designed to remind us of the things we have learned at Wheaton.
The people presented in my show represent growth that has been significant to my experience, but my hope is that as you walk through you would be reminded of your own Wheaton story and the people God used in your life to teach you lessons along the way.
It was during my first visit to Wheaton that I was struck by the beauty of our campus. It was not simply the redbrick buildings or the castle like structure that caught my attention, but rather the fresh cut grass beside islands of flowers and clean walls that evidenced a recent coat of paint. The care that went into maintaining the quality of our campus stood out to me then and continues to this day.
Today when I see the beauty of our campus I think about the people who make it a reality. I think about the talented men and women whose work continually creates the environment that so many are privileged to enjoy. Their work is a gift that so easily can be taken for granted, but as I have stopped to consider how I visualize Wheaton I cannot help but be thankful for their vital part in our community.
My biggest prayer coming into Wheaton was that God would bless me with friends who I could grow alongside in our pursuit of Christ. His answer to this prayer is perhaps the most defining aspect of my college experience. From friendships that span my entire time at Wheaton to those developed along the way, the growth I have encountered is unlike any I would have imagined coming into college. I learned how to share not only laughter and stories, but also tears and hardships. I realized that it is impossible to have it all together all of the time, and I allowed myself to not only be seen but also loved in my weakest and strongest moments. I learned to care for others in the ways they would prefer. These past four years have been an incredible time of growth. I by no means have perfected the art of being a friend, but living in this community enabled me to visualize what true friendship can look like when Christ is at the center.
Throughout my life I have experienced moments where a light came on in my heart and mind and caused my eyes to look at the world in a new way. One such moment occurred in chapel during my sophomore year when a group of dancers filled the stage. From where I sat in my chapel seat I was overcome by the beauty displayed through each expressive movement. It was not a show for the people gathered in Edman, but rather a display of praise to the Lord that I was privileged to observe. It was a reminder that there is no limit to the ways we can worship God. This truth is something I have continued to explore as I seek to discover how I can use my passions and talents for the Lord and live a life of worship.
An essential part of my Wheaton experience has been the opportunity to think creatively and develop my art. My artistic development during this time took place in the midst of projects and through the awareness I gained of the fact that people often play a critical role in an artist’s work. In my experience I found this to be true through instruction from professors, motivation from peers, and a drive to convey specific messages with others. Taking part in art at Wheaton has strengthened my skills and understanding of artistic processes, but beyond that it has challenged me to think about the ways in which I will use my work to make a difference in the lives of others. Through individual relationships and the use of my art as a visual agent, my mission is to touch the lives of others for Christ in both my work and home environments. This is what I visualize myself doing in the future.
A visualization of Wheaton College would be incomplete without a level of attention directed toward academics. The way my mind has been opened to new ideas and perspectives has significantly strengthened my depth of knowledge. I have truly benefitted from the instruction of professors and gleaned from the enthusiasm many of them exude in regard to their subject matter. I know that my learning will not end when I walk across the stage at graduation. It is really just the foundation for a lifetime of learning and I look forward to being able to think critically with Christ at the center as I go about life.
When I walked into Edman Chapel during my college visit to Wheaton I knew this was where I wanted to go. Since that moment our chapel has always held a special place in my heart.
For me, one of the most incredible moments in chapel is when our voices join together in songs that sing praise to our Lord. In the midst of the music there are many times I have stopped singing to turn my ear to the sound that fills the chapel. And then I feel chills go down my spine. It is one of the most incredible feelings to know that when I stand in chapel I am surrounded by over two thousand other students who have committed their lives to Christ and share in the pursuit of existing for Christ and His Kingdom.
When I look back on my time at Wheaton one of the things that marks my experience is personal growth. Through a range of means my college experience has strengthened who I am as a person, as well as how I interact with others—close friends, classmates, and friendships that last only for a season. I learned that when you take the time to learn about someone else, you learn things about yourself that you never knew before. Investing your heart is not a loss if a friendship does not last. For in those moments, we gain further understanding into what it means to care for another person, and what it means to be cared for in return. Each friendship, each interaction, is something that can be built upon to strengthen who we are for others in the future.
Beyond the Campus
I had often heard throughout my time in college that the Wheaton community exists beyond the campus. I imagined this to be true, but did not understand the reality of that statement until last semester.
When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer over Thanksgiving break, the course of my senior year took a turn in a direction I had not expected. Aside from the physical pain I felt, and the uncertainty of how cancer would affect my future, I was devastated not to be at Wheaton. But in what was one of the most difficult times of my life, I felt the incredible power of God in ways I had never experienced before and now can hardly articulate into words. I do know that I can express the way God used the Wheaton community to strengthen and encourage me. Through phone calls, emails, letters, gifts, and a visit from my roommates, I felt the love of the community I had left behind. I realized that I did not have to be physically present to remain a part of Wheaton, but that I was still very much a member of it from my home. I was not forgotten.
When I began my senior show this was not a piece of my wall, but when I realized that I would be able to return this semester I knew that I wanted to express this vital chapter of my Wheaton story. Though my time away was brief in comparison to the time I have spent on campus, the love I felt from friends, professors, and people I had never met is one of the greatest takeaways from my college experience.
Thank you for showing me that our community does exist beyond the campus.