Art students find their mummy
Last Monday, Towson art students got the chance to come face-to-face with history – literally. The art students were given the opportunity to get up close and personal with the “Mummies of the World” exhibition at the Maryland Science Center. Closed to the general public at the time, this exclusive look at the exhibit was open from 6 to 8 p.m. and allowed the artists to draw the pieces on display without any distractions or disturbances.
Sophomore art and design major Laura Ryan attended the event because of the rare opportunity.
“It’s something you’ll only get to do once,” Ryan said. “The mummies aren’t even here all the time.”
A far cry from normal still-lives and figure drawing subjects, Ryan said she enjoyed the unique lessons that the mummies taught them, specifically about the changes in the human body’s forms and textures over time.
“Whenever you’re in a drawing class, [you] get to do portraits or you get to do skull studies because they want you to understand anatomy and you might be able to do a muscular study. But I feel like you rarely get to see something that’s like, petrified,” Ryan said. “And I think it’s really interesting because you can see how the skin is like, flaking.”
Junior art and design major Rebecca Showalter said she agreed with Ryan.
“It’s kind of like taking an anatomy class,” Showalter said. “The foundation of drawing is knowing how the body is.”
Art and design professor Erika MacMahon said that the trip provided a great learning experience for the students.
“This will never happen again, you know, it just won’t. I mean, the fact that this was offered is amazing,” MacMahon said.
MacMahon offered a slightly different perspective, commenting on the texture and translucency of the fabrics used in mummification and preservation programs.
“For me, in my work I’m hoping to bring in some wrapped stuff, maybe not in the dead form, but in different forms. So, what’s nice about this is that it kind of shows me what a form would look like wrapped,” MacMahon said, “I’m not really interested in the dead stuff, but I know some people would be.”
Most of the artists weren’t sure what would come from their sketches of the exhibition, but some, like Ryan, hoped that their drawings may become part of a more completed piece or different media.
“I feel like if you get something really cool you could easily turn it into a finished piece, but that’s kind of up to what you get out of the two hours. I’m focused on portraiture,” Ryan said, “This is a very unconventional portrait.”
While most of the attendees said that they came primarily to practice their treatments of form and texture and hone their skills, third year grad student Rachel Tower said she has bigger plans for her sketches.
“This will be going to my portfolio to get into one of four schools…if I can do it right,” Tower said.
She said that she was especially drawn to the unique aspects of the mummies.
“You get to see the bone melting or like being petrified and things like that. It’s like you get to see the bone but like what does the bone push out and that kind of stuff,” Tower said.
–Megan Flannery contributed to this article