Becker Gallery Show: “Prologue” by S.L. Ridenour

Posted Aug 15, 2023

A new alumni artist show featuring the work of S.L. Ridenour (’10) has been mounted in the Becker Gallery, located in the lower level of the library. The show, entitled “Prologue”, will be up through fall semester. A reception will be held for S.L. on September 21st, 6p-8p, in the Becker Gallery, where you can meet the artist and learn more about her work. Her artist statement, below, provides a background on her pieces.

A line of colorful paintings against a brick wall with spotlights shining on them.
A line of S.L. Ridenour’s paintings in the Becker Gallery

“Prologue” Artist Statement:

For the longest time after graduating from Otterbein, I didn’t paint. I had graduated into one of
the most volatile job markets of the past several decades, in the shadow of the Great
Recession, when the art market and the careers associated with it still hadn’t fully recovered.
My life became about just surviving: two jobs at a time, long hours, no money to spend on
supplies, even less time to work on any art, and next to no motivation. Unfortunately, this was
not an uncommon experience among my peers at the time, and as the years dragged on, I saw
less, and less work being produced by the talented artists I’d graduated alongside. I mourned
for other reasons too: In the next decade I would lose my grandmother, three of my aunts, my
older brother, and my beloved mother, my first fan. Suddenly it wasn’t even about the time or
money: what was the point of making anything, when the people I wanted to show my work to
the most, weren’t there to see it anymore? A decade later, and I began to make peace with the
idea that although I had spent my college career dreaming of a future in art, it was just that, an
unrealized dream.

Then the pandemic hit.

What should have been another blow turned out to be a lifesaver in the end. There is nothing
like a global emergency, one that forces you to confront your own mortality to put things into
perspective. In the first few uncertain days, I thought about all the things I’d wished I’d done
instead of grinding to make ends meet. I thought about the painting ideas that had
accumulated in my brain like ghosts that might never be exorcised into reality. With a month
and a half of quarantine, of no struggles or ten hour shifts or unpaid bills, my mind could return
to its natural state: creation, expression, exploration. Painting became part of my therapy. It
became an act of defiance against all the awful things that had tried to crush me. What you see
today are the results of that time, of a tentative step back into a dream. This show feels like the
closing of a chapter for me and my art creation, a prologue, hopefully, in a long story I’ll be
writing for the rest of my life. I hope that you’ll await the next installment.