Five dominating paintings hang on the walls, each a different reflection of water. In them, NDSU art student Taylor Moran is also present.
The project is part of the 2017 Baccalaureate Exhibition by the NDSU visual arts department as a culmination of graduating seniors’ works. Moran’s pieces, like many of her classmates, represent a special place in her life.
“I wanted to pick something that I’m really passionate about and something that I wouldn’t get tired of working on for a whole semester,” she said. “I think it’s super interesting when people share themselves and their story, so I kind of wanted to just share my story with my friends and faculty.”
Moran’s story is centered on her relationship with Jesus. For most of her life, Moran said, she’s been a Christian. But in college, Moran has been making her faith her own.
“My faith and relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life,” Moran explained. “I wanted to share that with people but I didn’t really know how to for a long time. Throughout the Bible, there’s a ton of metaphors and examples when they use water. Just kind of taking those themes and trying to put them into paintings that people could look at and have a deeper connection to.”
In each of her pieces, water represents God. As the eye travels from one piece to the next, viewers are given a glimpse at the progression of the artists’ spiritual life.
Her first piece, “Coming to be Filled,” represents a lack of God. As Moran described it, “being thirsty and asking for water.”
“’Forgiveness’ is coming to God and being cleansed and made new. Having Him strip away my old identity.”
The biggest piece in the collection, “Overwhelming Presence,” features a full-body self-portrait of Moran with water up to her nose.
“This one is supposed to show that the Christian life isn’t perfect,” she said about the piece. “I’ve had tons of hard times in my life and times when I’ve rebelled against God and done things He wouldn’t want me to do. By having the water up past the mouth but under the nose, I just wanted to show that, yeah, I was still alive but I wasn’t fully living the life that I could be.”
If “Overwhelming Presence” was the crescendo, the next two pieces would be the resolution. “Peace at High Tide” represents the comfort Moran has felt in her faith and “Future Glory” the joy she’s had.
As Moran said, water is a powerful metaphor throughout the Bible. But according to Moran, it’s also something a lot of people can relate to.
“I chose water (as a theme) because, first of all, it’s really fun to paint,” she said. “Second of all, all these paintings talk about faith and that can be a really hard thing for some people to grasp so I wanted to pair it with something that people are really familiar with and that everyone can sort of have this connection to.”
Art has always been a key part of Moran’s life, from growing up doodling to painting in high school and finding her way to art education in college. After graduation, not only does Moran hope to keep painting but she also is planning on teaching middle school.
While Moran’s works are no longer on display at the Memorial Union Gallery, to view her baccalaureate pieces and more visit her website at taylormoran.weebly.com.