Student Spotlight

Joseph O’Brien, Class of 2014 

Joseph O'Brien '14

Joseph O’Brien ’14 of Naperville, Ill. received the Phi Beta Kappa Liberal Arts Scholar Award at Illinois Wesleyan.

O’Brien majored in art with concentrations in photography and graphic design. For his project, “Experiencing the Ineffable,” O’Brien wanted to look at how humans experience aspects of a recalled episodic memory that’s missing.

For example, if you remember you had coffee and a bagel for breakfast yesterday, but you can’t remember what type of bagel, that’s a partially recalled episodic memory. O’Brien was interested in the sensation we feel when we can’t recall an aspect of this type of memory. Philosophers call this sensation a quale — something that can’t be known without having been experienced.

To learn more about the ability of art to evoke sensations, O’Brien created seven pairs of photographs as a body of artwork. In each pair, one photo was untouched and the other was distressed. Within the exhibition space, the pairs of photographs were arranged so that spatial disconnect between each pair forced the viewer to attempt to recall the untouched image when viewing the distressed image. This hopefully evoked the quale in question, O’Brien said.

This fall, O’Brien begins a master’s program in studio art at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Selected Artworks by Joseph O'Brien '14

Gallery loading... (Click to view if it doesn't load)


Student Profiles

Dustin Springer Dustin Springer

Dustin Springer - Painting


Hometown: Normal, IL
Graduate of Normal Community High School, class of 2009
Interests: Playing the viola, philosophy, imagining, biological structures, science fiction.

My concentration in the school of art is painting, focusing on the use of acrylic. I have also been pursuing an interest in printmaking, but have yet to decide if a double concentration would be manageable.

Although my sources of inspiration are widely varied, transformation can generally be seen as the central theme that I am concerned with. My current body of work is focused, fittingly, on the human body. Specifically, my interest is ways in which the figure can be joined harmoniously with seemingly disparate imagery. For me, the torso has always seemed to be a natural point of departure for the rest of the figure. By including a generally recognizable torso, one is able to transform the extremities in such a way that is ambiguous as to whether a human is being transformed into or from another object. Generally, I choose to place the figure in the center of the canvas surrounded by little, if any, background imagery. In doing this, I hope to direct the entirety of a viewer's attention on the subject at hand. In most cases, the subject is a careful consideration of how human anatomy can be incorporated seamlessly with nonhuman structure. My current interest in botany, for example, has proven to lend itself extremely well to the natural curves and creases of the human body. Through such pieces, I hope to call into question the separation and dominance that humans feel the need to hold over the rest of the natural world.

Jamie Kang Jamie Kang '11 Self Portrait Jamie Kang

Jamie Kang - Graphic Design


Hometown: Northbrook, IL
High School: Glenbrook North High School '07
Interests/Hobbies: Badminton, reading, baking, movies, sustainable design, design for social justice
Travel: Studied abroad in Madrid, Spain in Spring 2009, have also traveled to South Korea, China, Philippines, Panama, Italy, Portugal, and France.
University activity: member of Kappa Pi (former secretary) (I'm not very involved on campus...)

It was a huge jump for me when I changed my major from biology pre-medicine to graphic design in the middle of my sophomore year at IWU, but it was the right decision to make. Because of the graphic design courses I have taken, I look at everything in this world through highly critical eyes. I go around looking at book covers, posters, movie credits, packaging, signs, etc. and decide for myself if they show good or bad design. I can never look at anything normally again! As cheesy as it sounds, my design vision is always on, whether I detect it or not. It is a curse and a great blessing to be able to see these things. I thank all of my art professors for sharpening my perspective!

Most of the design work I have produced has a clean and simple composition. I love fitting together text to form beautiful type units! Occasionally I have used hand drawn elements, such as in my Berlin Stiletto Run poster. It was difficult to capture the exact mood I was looking for in the font and illustration, but the end product was worth the long process. I have also enjoyed designing books on various topics: unaccompanied children, sounds, and uses of a clothespin. I hope to continue exploring my interest in book making in the future, whatever that may hold.

Leeya Jackson Leeya Jackson

Leeya Jackson - Printmaking


I am native to Detroit, Mi where I attended Martin Luther King High School. Currently, I am applying to study abroad in Florence, Italy. I am also a member of Kappa Pi, the art fraternity here at IWU. I have not officially declared a concentration yet because I am enamored with so many different media. Though I am leaning towards making printmaking my prime field, I have a newly found appreciation for painting. My interests range drastically from one day to the other, and things that I was inspired by yesterday may be completely eradicated today. However my pieces outside of assignments tend to always include a hint of nature, figural aspects, and something symbolic that stems from my African American background.

Kate Hunt Kate Hunt

Kate Hunt- Concentration Undecided


I am from St. Louis, Missouri where I went to Ursuline Academy High School. In my free time I enjoy practicing pilates and watching documentaries.

Color is very important to me. It is almost always the aspect of my artwork that I connect with and love the most. I am inspired by the smaller details in life --the seemingly insignificant images that are often overlooked in the fast-paced world we live in. A lot of my art involves patterns, I've always found intricate designs to be fascinating. There isn't very much specificity in my passions (artistic or in general). There are simply too many styles, materials, techniques and subjects that I am captivated by; which is why I have had a hard time picking a concentration(s). But lately I have been leaning towards Printmaking. There is a lot versatility and craft involved. Whatever direction I end up going in, I will continue to place an emphasis on color and attempt to capture some essence of the natural world.