An Authentic Miracle
It’s late in the day.
The natural light that normally floods the long hallway connecting Walb Student Union to the Gates Sports Center is fading, and IPFW Professor of Drawing and Painting Audrey Ushenko is hunched close to her canvas.
With deft strokes of her brush, she fills in the details of a cheekbone, a gesture, and a thousand-yard stare.
Ushenko is trying to capture something genuine.
Ushenko describes her work as being about the individual. She’s interested in the stories and hidden universes behind the eyes of those she passes by.
Even in murals—including those created on behalf of IPFW, featuring plenty of recognizable faces from around campus—Ushenko takes care to individualize her subjects within a crowd.
For her, the subject speaks loudest when in public.
Many artists labor over their works in private. Not Ushenko.
She can often be found in public spaces on campus or in the community, her works-in-progress on display for everyone to see.
This public workspace affords her opportunities to be in the spaces she’s depicting on canvas, but also provides the curious passerby the chance to speak with her and ask questions about her work.
“I realized that most of the world’s great art was done in public places, not in proud isolation,” she says. “Particularly children spend an incredible amount of time watching. And so, I felt as if I was doing something useful.”
Art as Service
Ushenko rejects the common stereotype of the artist working in “proud isolation,” locked away in a studio far from the public eye. Instead, she believes art can be—and often is—created in service of something else entirely.
“And in fact,” she says, “art is not just easel painting and sculpture. It’s not only carved stylizing, but the design of motors. Art has many manifolds and it has a million different forms according to its function.”
Ushenko flatly rejects the common idea that art is an act of self-expression.
Instead, she says, it is a search for truth—just like any other mental discipline taught in the halls and classrooms on campus—that becomes self-expression in the act of being learned.
Program Snapshot: Department of Fine Arts
What shape does your art take? The Department of Fine Arts can help you hone your craft in modern studio spaces and connect your work with major regional galleries and organizations. We graduate painters, sculptors, printmakers, and more. Our program includes ceramics, drawing, metalsmithing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Learn more.