Student Spotlight: Alex Donovan ’13

From creating “Caras Latinas,” a photographic project promoting student diversity and cultural awareness on campus last spring, to painting intricate designs on students’ faces during this fall’s Andover/Exeter Day, Alexandra Donovan ’13 has enjoyed connecting the Andover community with her art. Donovan, a Senior day student from Andover, MA, said that creating art has always been an integral part of her life, both inside and outside of the classroom. “I’m very aesthetically minded. Since I was little, I used to draw a ton. My mom is an architect, so that has also given me a lot of exposure [to art],” said Donovan. Donovan pursues art in multiple media and a variety of projects. “I have always drawn and painted, and in middle school I really enjoyed making jewelry and selling it at craft fairs,” said Donovan. Throughout her experiences at Andover, Donovan grew as an artist through classes and extracurricular activities alike. As an Upper, Donovan took the Art 500 Advanced Art Studio course that focuses on the technical and conceptual aspects of art. “I was in Art 500 last year, and that [course] was really big for me just because Art 500 is very conceptual. You learn to think conceptually about art. It’s not just about building up skills,” said Donovan. Donovan created two main projects during Art 500: “Making the Invisible Visible,” a series of pieces that merged the media of ink with photography, and “Conformity,” a tapestry made out of everyday items that was displayed in the Gelb Gallery last spring. In “Making the Invisible Visible,” Donovan photographed headshots of 25 different models. The models completed a questionnaire in which they answered questions about the personalities of other participants and themselves. The answers on the models’ questionnaires were then jotted down on the face area in the photographs. “[‘Making the Invisible Visible’] incorporated the community. The [community-focused projects] that I’ve done have been my most rewarding projects. Other people [and the models themselves] have actually stopped to read what had been written on their faces,” said Donovan. Most of the time, Donovan uses the student community as inspiration for her art. Serving as this year’s Co-Head of Alianza Latina, Andover’s Latin American culture club, Donovan initiated a project highlighting Andover’s Latino diversity that she titled “Caras Latinas,” which means Latin faces. “We took headshots of all the people who identify as Latino on campus, and then displayed all of their headshots in the library,” Donovan said. “That was really cool because many people stopped when they walked by them in the library, and just said, ‘They’re Hispanic?’ It was such an eye-opening project.” “I love how she works identity into her pieces and that her pieces of art are so meaningful. She shares art with everyone; whenever she sees an art piece online or hears about something interesting another artist is doing, she gets so excited and shares it with me and her other friends,” said Devon Burger ’13 in an email to The Phillipian. Donovan continued her interaction with the community through her innovative artistic pursuits by running the face-painting event for Andover/Exeter last weekend. Her inspiration to paint students’ faces for Andover-Exeter came after she started painting designs on the face of her friend Rhea Lewis ’13 on Fridays when Lewis started serving as a Blue Key Head. “[Painting Rhea’s face] turned into an idea for a face painting service during Andover/Exeter, which was a lot of fun. I’m just really glad that I did it, and I think that it was something non-athletically different that I could do for a very athletic day,” said Donovan. “Alex’s face painting skills are insane. This year’s Blue Key Heads looks phenomenal and all the [Andover/Exeter] fans did too. It’s obvious that she gets her inspiration from the people she’s painting; each face gets a certain uniqueness alike with that person,” said Kevin Newhall ’13. Donovan plans to apply to architecture schools and lists strong fine-arts programs on her priorities list as she looks at various colleges. “I know that I will definitely dabble in other aspects of art [in the future], and I think that my artistic experiences in Andover have influenced the way that I think about graphic design and architecture. I’m not on the technical spectrum of architecture. I’m definitely on the artsier side of it,” said Donovan. Donovan lets her desire to make high-quality and thought-provoking work guide her art. “I think that what attracts to me to go to museums are the impressive pieces or the ones that make me think. I like working with my hands a lot, so I’m okay with doing hours of busy [artistic] work if it’s going to end up into something really good,” said Donovan. Although Donovan has yet to commit to any big projects this year, she hopes to be able to take a ceramics or a weaving course before she graduates from Andover. Keep a lookout for Donovan’s ornate face paint designs that will continue to grace the faces of the Blue Key Heads every Friday.