Two painters share a community of supportive peers and new works


Seniors Mallory Stowe and Abigail Pennington spent a lot of time on the fifth floor of Siegfred Hall, where their painting studios became creative ports for their art and friendship.

Now, the two Ohio University seniors are putting the finishing touches on their senior thesis projects and preparing to show new oil paintings at the student expo on April 7.

Stowe and Pennington, both painting + drawing students in the School of Art + Design’s Studio Art program, are recipients of the Provost Undergraduate Research Fund award, which helps offset the costs of materials like paints, canvas and brushes. The two are finalizing their individual thesis projects, which will culminate in capstone exhibitions this spring.

In addition to sharing a nearby studio, Stowe and Pennington also shared the experience of the founding year’s Studio Art Program, an interdisciplinary journey meant to be as liberating as it is empowering. This is followed by two years of intense courses in several artistic mediums and a growing dialogue on thesis projects within their community of artists.

This year, working closely with program faculty artists John Sabraw and David LaPalombara, the two honed their artistic research and practice as they approach their final semester.

“The nice thing is that they’re both very supportive and they both make themselves available to us no matter what class you’re in,” Pennington said.

The thesis project is a multi-year journey for studio art majors. By the time they find themselves working on their capstone project, they rely on their early years of study. What starts as casual conversation, listening to others talk about their work in class, and having a late night conversation in the studio leads to the development of their own work.

“I think it’s been building for a while,” Stowe said. “The thesis is something we’ve talked about since our second year, more loosely to begin with. Then, as elders, we start to get more concrete. This develops slowly by taking classes where we write and talk about our work, together.

In the final year, students study a single idea through several rooms. Being able to continue the development of an idea through various iterations is the goal, and “in this final year, we are demonstrating that we can create a body of work that is cohesive and conveys an important idea,” he said. she stated.

Mallory Stowe working on her painting
Mallory Stowe

Community means others have an interest in your work

Both artists describe a community of peer artists that is supportive and welcoming and the importance of mentorship from the School of Art + Design’s graduate students, who provide model professional expertise and practices in the classroom, studio and in gallery.

“As an undergrad, it can be hard to imagine how we’re going to do this. [professional artist] the work of life. It helps to see people in their mid-twenties demonstrate how this can happen, including pursuing higher education as an option. Stowe said.

A painting by Mallory Stowe
A painting by Mallory Stowe

Mallory Stowe creates around the concept of sitting

In high school, Stowe’s senior art class was a very collaborative community. “I knew it was something I wanted to find in college. When I visited this school, I saw the studios and the other students working together, that’s what made me decide to come here.

At OHIO, Stowe worked closely with faculty mentor Sabraw and as a studio assistant on the Pigment Pollution Project.

His current works are large canvas paintings of people, rendered in oil paint, the costs of which can add up, and are made possible in part by his award from the Provost Undergraduate Research Fund.

“Through this project, I will have a better understanding of the complete conceptualization and execution of a visual idea. This creative process will prepare me for graduate school and eventually a career in painting,” said Stowe.

“These most recent paintings revolve around my identity and my grandmother, who was diagnosed with ALS and recently passed away.”

Stowe describes how making the paintings allowed him to channel the associated strong emotions into an organized research project, creating impactful work from his experience.

“I take away from women the expectation of being or sitting still, while acknowledging that I’ve learned a lot from sitting intentionally, choosing to sit and spend time with someone.”

Stowe’s thesis work titled “Sit Still” will be part of the BFA group exhibition titled “Detour,” April 12-16, with a reception scheduled for April 14, 5-7 p.m., at the Ohio University Art Gallery .

A painting by Abigail Pennington
A painting by Abigail Pennington

Abigail Pennington explores how color and emotion intertwine

Though initially unsure of her college direction, Pennington knew she would land somewhere that made sense. She was looking for something, a direction of degree, that seemed right to her. In the end, an “instinctive attraction to art” prevailed. “My mom is an artist and I grew up around that,” she said.

At OHIO, Pennington took advantage of the strength of a shared foundation program to explore a wide range of different mediums and artistic practices.

“They really give you a lot of freedom to explore. Although it can be overwhelming, I think it helps. It gives you options,” she said.

During his senior year, Pennington produced works of art almost exclusively in paint. Focusing on one medium helped her identify strengths and weaknesses. She also cites the discussions and feedback she receives and gives within her community of peer artists as a key factor in her development.

“In my work, I think my initial approach is to do a little bit of everything, then step back, look at it and find the connections, even if I didn’t feel that there were at the beginning. You know what feels good. I started to refine the work, to find the link between all these parts.

Pennington’s current “Not Just the Blues” portrait series is created using oil paint on small to medium-sized wood panels and uses raw and intense color combinations to push an investigation into the how our emotions intersect with our identities.

“I’ve been into portraiture for a little while now, and I realize that color is what binds the work together. And so, I researched and thought about the impact of color and how it relates to our emotions, and even individual people, in particular.

Pennington’s thesis project will be presented April 19-23 at the Ohio University Art Gallery at Seigfred Hall, with a reception scheduled for April 21 from 6-8 p.m.

See Mallory Stowe’s work on Instagram at

See Abigail Pennington’s work on


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