Bridging art & nature: The world of Gabrielle Kennedy

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Gabrielle Kennedy talks about her artistic journey and the inspiration she draws from nature. — Contributor / Gabrielle Kennedy

For artist Gabrielle Kennedy, a simple stroll through the woods is enough to garner inspiration for her next project. 

“With doing art, I also have to take time to go outside and hike and take pictures because that’s what feeds me in creating the art,” said Kennedy.

As someone who is influenced by the untouched landscapes that exist far outside the confines of a traditional workshop, Kennedy sees the natural world as her studio. Using nature’s inhabitants as the subjects of her work, Kennedy hones in on the raw and simplistic beauty of the Earth to create her artistic pieces‒a way for her to express her appreciation for the living world that’s exclusionary of human beings.

 “I just find a lot of beauty in not just animals, but the plants and the natural organic things around us,” said Kennedy. “I feel like it’s so easy to see the beauty in humans because we are humans, but with animals, I think you can get a deeper sense of appreciation.”

Her love for art was evident at a young age, a passion Kennedy feels has always been present.

“It sounds so cliche, but I’ve just been doing art for as long as I can remember,” said Kennedy. “I remember being in kindergarten and always being obsessed with the colors of the rainbow and constantly wanting to draw.”

Her grandmother was also a big role model for her growing up, as Kennedy observed the artistry she displayed while creating countless different works of art.

“When I was younger, my grandma was definitely an influence,” said Kennedy. “She was an artist too and I would always see her painting, which was something that I really admired.” 

Along with taking inspiration from the techniques used in medieval art and the boldness of tattoo designs, Kennedy soon came to define her own signature artistic style during middle school and also came to realize that art was a hobby she wanted to pursue for the rest of her life.

High school was when Kennedy first began to take art seriously. During these formative years, she began entering art competitions and posting her work online, all of which were very new experiences for her. For the first time, her artwork was open to critique from complete strangers and wasn’t just another private creation. While making art was the easy part for her, Kennedy explains that publicly showcasing her work wasn’t an easy social adjustment to make.

“I’m a very introverted person and you wouldn’t think that making art would require you to put yourself out there in certain ways, but you kind of have to,” said Kennedy. 

However, while showing off her artistic personality and style was nerve-wracking at first, the acclaim her artwork received helped Kennedy realize that she was on the path she was meant to follow which was creating and sharing her artwork with large audiences.

“The validation from other people made me think that I could call myself an artist at that point,” said Kennedy. “That’s when I decided to go into college work.”

And that’s exactly what she did. After obtaining her associate’s degree at Rowan College of South Jersey, Kennedy transferred to Rowan University to obtain her bachelor’s. Currently, she is a senior studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in computer-aided creation, a process that combines traditional artistic practices with modern technology. She also works in the art department at Rowan in the RAV studio, a 3D printing lab located on campus. 

Looking at her portfolio, Kennedy is a digital artist who uses Procreate on her iPad to create her drawings, along with 3D printing on the computer software application Rhino. Sticking with her love of animals, Kennedy makes them the subjects of her artwork and incorporates other features of nature, like plants, into her pieces. 

“I always love to draw animals and that’s still a theme that continues in my heart, as I am inspired by the natural world around me,” said Kennedy.

In the spring, Kennedy will be debuting her senior show about the subject of mortality in the context of the animal kingdom. This will be her first gallery show and it will be on display in Westby Hall and open to the general public for viewing. The date and time of this event is yet to be determined. 

Reflecting on her artistic journey, Kennedy feels she has grown not just in her artistic abilities, but also as a person. Starting out as a shy child with a desire to be creative, Kennedy has grown into an outgoing and self-made artist, someone who isn’t afraid to show off her talents and produce more unique and intricate pieces. As Kennedy says, this is the thing she is most proud of.

“Art was the easy part for me, but putting myself out there wasn’t,” said Kennedy. “That part I had to grow into a little bit, but looking back it’s the thing I’m most proud of because it was the hardest for me to overcome.”

To see more of Kennedy’s artwork, follow her on Instagram @fernssins.

 For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @thewhitatrowan or email  the.whit.arts@gmail.com.

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