Student Spotlight: Artist and illustrator Beverly Alomepe ’17
Beverly Alomepe ’17 drew her early artistic inspiration from an atypical source.
When she was younger, she was interested in anime and manga, she said.
Her interest in manga comics encouraged her to take a basic drawing and charcoal art class in high school. Alomepe noted that she recognized her artistic talent after this class, but decided that pursuing a career in art would be difficult, even prohibitive. She went into Dartmouth thinking about studying biomedical engineering and Chinese.
Her path changed when during her spring term of her first year she took “Drawing 1.”
“From there, my creativity just exploded,” Alomepe said. “I was feeling really, really comfortable in the class.”
After “Drawing 1,” her interest began to shift towards more abstract forms of expression.
“Basically everyone initially sees art as representational. You want it to be based in reality,” Alomepe said.
She went through a time when she questioned if her art was “bad art,” because it did not necessarily represent something concrete or represent it realistically, like, for example, Renaissance paintings do.
“But I’ve become more comfortable with drawing and sculpting things that don’t necessarily represent one thing, but are multi-faceted,” Alomepe said. “I ideally want viewers to be confused and see and take what they want from the painting or sculpture.”
Studio art intern Gabriel Barrios ’15, who was in a monoprinting class with Alomepe last year, said her work “relied a lot on patterns.”
“[Alomepe] was recalling Baroque at the time when we were studying together. A lot of work like Dada work, abstract expressionist work — early 20th century work,” Barrios said. “Very abstract, but I think in ways that recalled a lot of patterns you would see in weaving and textiles.”
Fellow studio art major, Amarachi Ihionu ’17 echoed Barrios’ description of some of Alomepe’s work as pattern-oriented. Ihionu said that before they met sophomore year, the two were in different sections of “Drawing 1.”
“We saw the work of the other class and vice versa,” Ihionu said. “I would also see her in the studio. At that time, I didn’t know her, but I was noticing her work and it was pretty eye-catching.”
Ihionu noticed Alomepe’s use of color in particular as a notable characteristic of Alomepe’s work in “Drawing 1”. While “Drawing 1” typically has students use pencil, charcoal and ink in order to establish a focus on line and form, Alomepe’s class was able to use oil pastels, Ihionu said.
Ihionu described Alomepe’s use of color as “very vibrant.”
“I think the way she works is that the color dictates the composition as opposed to line or form, which is pretty unique in itself. It makes her work stand out,” Ihionu said.
Alomepe was recently featured on the “Artists of Dartmouth” Facebook page. In the photo, Alomepe is surrounded by a group of paintings of figures rendered abstractly in striking colors — bright blues, greens and yellows — on equally vivid pattern-based backgrounds.
Alomepe said the project began with one painting featuring a central female figure clutching a baby surrounded by a group of other figures.
“What I wanted to challenge myself to do was take this clearly representational and classical painting and simplify it and break it down into where the light hits each figure and bring the environment to a place where it is very subtly ambiguous but still manages to engage the viewer,” Alomepe said.
From there she experimented with different figures, scenes and color palettes to create a series of these paintings, some portraying the exact same figures, Alomepe said. She took this idea and expanded it in her next painting class, “Painting 2,” but added a sense of place, environment and storyline to her work, Alomepe said.
“I would take figure and place them in these strange, semi-alien but at the same time kind of children’s storybook environments,” Alomepe said.
This children’s book theme has continued into one of her more recent projects, a free coloring book called “All the things I can do and can be...!” designed to encourage homeless children and teens of color to pursue science, technology, engineering and math and other areas in which they are underrepresented. Alomepe plans to submit this project as part of a grant application from The Class of 1961 Arts Initiative Fund for a Special Project in the Arts, she said.
Alomepe draws inspiration from surrealist art, admiring its representational aspect combined with its dreamscape quality, as well as found object art. Some artists that inspire her include El Anatsui, Wangetchi Mutu and Yinka Shonibare. Her fascination with found object art is present in the collages she makes.
“How disjointed art manages to become whole and how it creates shapes and how its shapes interlink is kind of why I find myself drawn to collage,” Alomepe said.
Barrios described Alomepe’s presence in the studio as motivating.
“She’s a very bright person, she’s very warm,” Barrios said. “She does a good job of making people feel really excited about working.”