Theresa Kornelsen


Artist Statement

Where do I come from? Who am I? How has my family made me who I am? How do I know these answers when many of my family members are no longer alive to tell me? What have they passed on to me?


My exhibition explores these questions through charcoal portraits of my grandparents, parents, and me. Charcoal is a seeking material. Not only does it get all over anything around it, the process of drawing with charcoal is often done in a seeking manner. You make a mark, or a series of marks, then rub them smooth into the paper. Perhaps you made too heavy or dark a mark, so you erase, then make new marks. Make a mark. Seek values and shapes. Erase a mark. Seek the subject.

Part of my exhibition includes memories of these people, of stories told of them and by them. I am a writer as well as a visual artist, so it was a natural progression to engage with these memories through poetry. There is so much more to a person than just a face. These poems provide little glimpses into who each person is or was. I chose to write my poems on vellum, creating layers of transparency that allow you to see the accumulation of words and history. Neither poems nor portraits can capture the whole, but perhaps together they can show bits of the way these people—my heritage—have made me who I am.

Gallery of Portraits
Gallery of Poems
About Theresa Kornelsen

Theresa is a fifth year student from BC who is graduating with a double major in English and Art. Her majors have come together for her senior show in the combination of poetry and portraits. In addition to charcoal drawings and writing, Theresa also creates with oil painting and the fiber arts. Her style and subjects are influenced by family and location while parts of her art are continuations of skills her family has long practiced.