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Department of Art

Painting as Meditation: Courtney Seamons Yeatman’s Weight Room Exhibition Explores Mental Health

Art BFA Student Uses Oil Paint To Represent Her Experience With Depression

“Sometimes as I paint I accidentally rub some of the dark color palette on my face. The bruiseish looking marks fit a somber theme.”

This is how Courney Seamons Yeatman describes her upcoming Weight Room exhibition, “Uncertainty.” A senior in the art BFA program, Yeatman is interested in “bog projects” or projects that require long hours of difficult work. She loves activities, such as long distance running, that require stamina and focus. For her, art falls into this category. Her upcoming exhibition in the Department of Art’s Weight Room explores her experience with depression and represents the long, at times arduous, process that is living.

Yeatman has been working on this project for over a year and the process has been therapeutic, a practice in meditation that allows her to process her thoughts. She said, “Painting helps me work through difficult emotions. Often, when I get focused on technical aspects, I feel like I drift off into meditation. The act of painting brings back control and helps [me] remember that even though bad things are guaranteed to happen, good ones will happen too.”

Yeatman chose to use oil paint on panel, which is a finicky and difficult medium to work with. Yeatman did not enjoy using the medium at first. Professor Peter Everett showed her how to work the paint. She said that she had to “get through the hating of it to now love it.” Her chosen medium and the process she went through to physically create the art adds to the theme of pushing through the bad experiences to make it to the good.

In her paintings she depicts natural phenomena that can also elicit distress such as water or fire. She uses these natural elements to represent how she has sometimes felt: “My experience with depression has felt like this unstoppable ocean,” she said, “But creating these scenes helps [me] come to terms with the fact that lots of things happen to a person in their life.”

Yeatman hopes that viewers can experience a meditative state in her exhibition, similar to the one she felt while painting. “I would like viewers to acknowledge their smallness in the variety of trials life can throw at them but to not feel discouraged by this. [I’ve learned that] as bad things come, so will good.”

Yeatman’s artwork was on display in the Weight Room from October 27 to November 14 with a reception held on November 2 at 7 p.m.