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Open Book

Five students divulge their most personal creations as part of the annual Horn Gallery notebook show “Choose Love Over Fear.”

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A colorful sketch from the notebook of Ellie Manos. Bright red EXIT signs, streaks of fire, and a chaotic crowd of faces imply a plane crash.
Photo credit: Jack Zellweger

Ellie Manos ’18

“My family tells me it’s dark, but I don’t really think it’s dark … I just added in the surroundings of where I was,” Ellie Manos ’18 reflected on this page of her notebook, drawn during a flight from Los Angeles to New York over spring break. “First, I put in the door and the exit sign, and then it became sort of plane-crashy.”

Manos is an art major and plans on pursuing art after college. “I don’t know what I will do if I’m not an artist,” she said. “I’m just now being more proactive about figuring out my career path.”

A page of Post-It notes from the notebook of Olivia Lindsay. Statuesque, exaggerated characters on the Post-Its float through star fields and empty space.
Photo credit: Jack Zellweger

Olivia Lindsay ’19

A performing artist, Olivia Lindsay ’19 is new to the visual arts, but turned to sketching to help her deal with the challenges college brings. “I got to college, and everything felt a little mindless compared with what I experienced in high school,” she said. “Last year, I was quite sad at Kenyon, and I wasn’t doing my homework. I was doing a lot of doodles because I was frustrated by the culture of Kenyon. I wrote Post-Its that were a little sarcastic sometimes and tr[ied] to make people think about why they do the things they do at college.”

Handwritten inspirational phrases cover a page from Emma Brown's notebook. In the center, the phrase "don't panic" stands out in bold letters.
Photo credit: Jack Zellweger

Emma Brown ’17

“When you look at your own stuff long, you can’t really tell if it’s good or not,” Emma Brown ’17 said while thumbing through her notebooks. We arrived at this page, and “don’t panic” caught my eye.

“I started asking friends what they say to themselves when they’re having a hard time and they need reassurance,” Brown explained. She used this notebook page as a starting point for a larger art project in which she painted an umbrella with quotes. “The umbrella is like a metaphor, because it’s like all these words of reassurance are sheltering you from the world. I say ‘don’t panic’ — that’s why it’s in the middle.”

A page from Armaan Maharaj's notebook bears a diagram of several abstract planes intersecting. Some of the planes have a grassy texture while others feature fungal growths. Maharaj has labelled sections of the diagram with backwards handwriting.
Photo credit: Jack Zellweger

Armaan Maharaj ’19

“Leonardo DaVinci used to write backwards,” Armaan Maharaj ’19 said of this page in his notebook, “Mostly to confuse and throw off people that were trying to steal his ideas. I thought it was novel, so I gave it a try.”

Maharaj has been perfecting his speed and fluidity in backwards writing for a while. Recently, he has taken to creating and labeling small worlds in his notebooks, combining individual constructions in an interesting and extraordinary way. “I was wondering what it would be like if you had a series of flat earths, or an infinite series of flat earths even,” Maharaj said. “I’m interested in cartography and old cartography and the imaginative ways people envision their world.”

Sarah Nourie ’17

An inked self portrait from the notebook of Sarah Nourie. Next to the portrait is a handwritten quote: "She took the book by each end of its spine and shook it. Scores of flowers and petals fell and drifted between the pages."
Photo credit: Jack Zellweger

Practice makes perfect. Sarah Nourie ’17 can fill up an entire notebook every few weeks. “I’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the year,” she said. “As I sketch more, I find myself able to sketch more realistically and more calmly. Rather than scribbling over messed up parts, I let things go.” Nourie draws self-portraits, tiny houses she hopes to live in one day, and vignettes of moments she appreciates. “I’ve always found an escape in drawing. I can’t really sit still at this point or do anything unless I’m drawing.”

Nourie replays moments in her mind by putting them down on paper, capturing moments that may have otherwise gone unpreserved. She details the idea of the “commonplace,” or an artistic space where anything goes. In her work, there are no categories or themes, and interesting thoughts and feelings run wild.

A watercolor sketch of a fantastical house-boat from Nourie's notebook
Photo credit: Jack Zellweger
Another small watercolor sketch by Nourie, this one a still-life of a suitcase, boots, and two potted plants. Next to illustration, Nourie has written: "All my bags are packed I'm ready to go."



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