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SOAR Profile - Aisling Housel

Name: Aisling Housel 
Major/minor: Studio Art 
Expected date of graduation: Spring 2014 
Hometown: Lansdale, Pa. 
Activities: Member of the Kappa Pi honorary art fraternity 
Project title: An Exploration of Social Class in the Context of Historic and Contemporary American Portraiture
Project advisor: Aron Johnston

For Aisling Housel, it was easy to immerse herself into her SOAR project. The studio art major explained the research topic was of great interest personally but, equally important, SOAR put the educational process in her own hands.

“I was able to learn about portraiture more than any class could teach me,” Aisling says. “The opportunity to have my own studio and work on something that I am passionate about was something that I couldn’t pass up.”

During her summer, Aisling studied what goes into portraiture that makes it determine a person’s class in society. This led her to visit several museums, while also studying portraits from the 18th century New York Chamber of Commerce and American presidents to contemporary works done by upcoming artists.

“We learned about the details that go into a portrait including the subject’s posture, symbols, the audience, and the medium,” Housel explains. “Within those categories –and more – we were able to see how the artist portrays the subject into a certain social class. We applied our knowledge to our personal work and created portraits.”

The results included creating four of her own portraits, a difficult undertaking because Housel had to consider the factors of how social class can be determined from her work’s little details. The experience challenged and motivated her.

“Within the studio, I was able to learn how to create work using different techniques,” she says. “I learned how an artist would need to work to get a project done and what would be the most productive process.”

Aisling plans to continue to produce work that goes along with the themes of the project, with aspirations of displaying her art in an upcoming gallery or show. In the future, she wants to enroll in graduate school for museum studies or fine arts, and land a position at an art museum. Until then Housel will continue to expand her techniques she learned during her SOAR project into her personal work.