BEVERLY, Mass. – Create your happiness.
It’s a simple phrase, but a powerful one when explained by senior women's lacrosse student-athlete Kendra Walters (Plymouth, Mass.), an aspiring art educator/therapist at Endicott.
“The phrase 'create your happiness' is on a plaque in my room and I guess that is just what art has always been about for me," said Walters. "With life’s ups and downs, it is obviously very difficult to keep a smile on your face 100 percent of the time, but creating something beautiful and unique can distract me and force me to put my attention some place else where I can be more appreciative and have an open-minded perspective."
That thought process – create your happiness – started in Walters’ life well before she may have even recognized it.
“Art is kind of where I go to escape, not just when I’m having a bad day, but whenever I need cheering up,” said Walters. “It’s [art] always been in my life. I always wanted to be an art teacher when I was little. In kindergarten when all of the other kids would be outside at recess I would be inside drawing, so that kind of sparked it.”
Fast forward some odd double-digit years later and it’s clear that Walters’ current phrase is visible within her work, especially to her professors. So much so, that they have identified Walters as a colorist, which means an artist or designer who uses color in a special or skillful way.
Walters’ artwork, currently on display at the Visual & Performing Arts Center (VPAC), is inspired from her relationships, experiences, and emotions. Her compositions reveal themselves to be narratives, telling a story or expressing an emotion commonly felt through her figurative paintings. Walters’ work is powerful, but subtle, mysterious and obscure, and still intriguing. She wishes to engage the viewer, relaying new or shared perspectives that they will take with them.
Although her artwork might include similar thoughts in their ideology, the path that she takes to get there is never identical.
“It always depends on my mood, what color I pick up, what brush I pick up, what type of paint, if I want to add some drawing into it with ink or charcoal, or anything, and music is a big part too,” said Walters. “Whatever music I am listening to usually amps up the painting in different ways.”
Her art has continued to evolve over time at Endicott as she explores, reflects, and experiments with new ways to create art and express her visual voice. Some of those new mediums include abstract art, and encaustic and wax painting, while some of her staples have vastly improved too (oils, water colors, acrylics).
Walters also had the chance to change her cultural, educational, and world views on all things art last year when she studied abroad at the University of Westminster in London, England, all while being a member of the women’s lacrosse program at the College.
During her time in London, Walters immersed herself in her arts (painting, writing), and experienced the culture of London and art at major museums and local galleries. She soon began to develop her personal direction in the visual arts through her study abroad trip and her most recent internship experience.
“My past internship this summer was at a high school and it rejuvenated what I wanted to do career wise,” said Walters. “I definitely want to be in a school, start off in a high school, maybe, and then transition to teaching at the college level would be really fun. Running a classroom and teaching kids about art is definitely what’s going to happen for me in the next few years.”
Juggling school work and creating beautiful pieces of art just as a student alone is one thing, but to handle all of that with such aplomb while also being a member of the women's lacrosse program at Endicott is unique. Walters, somehow through her dedication to both her classwork and athletics, carries a 3.21 cumulative grade point average and plays on a team that has won 33 games in the last three years (.623 winning percentage), reached the NCAA Tournament, and completes community service projects in and out of season.
"It's hard, last semester was probably my hardest semester," said Walters, who also had to readjust to school after being in London for four months. "Art takes time, it's not like writing a five page paper. With art, you can look at what you have created and realize you messed up completely or the piece is missing something and you don't know what it is so you have to start the whole creative process over again. It's hard with games added on top of that too because I'll be on a bus and you can't exactly pull out a sketch book or get your oil paints so I always have to plan ahead to be successful."
When asked of her favorite experience as a student-athlete the answer was simple.
"Besides winning the CCC Championship my freshman year, every day with those girls and every day with coach out on that field is just amazing," said Walters. "They are my family, they are my support system, and they are everything I have here. I don't know what I would do without my 30 or so friends who play lacrosse."
MISSION: To prepare students for professions in the arts, studio programs emphasize creativity, critical thinking, and artistic skill-building. These proficiencies are placed in historical context, furthered in advanced studios, and are enclosed in a liberal arts education. Experiential learning takes these academic theories and studio skills and applies them to the three faculty-supervised internships.
Endicott College art and design programs exceed professional standards required by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and surpass general studies (liberal arts) standards required by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC); thereby earning its reputation as place for a comprehensive education.