Charlotte Gossage

The Year I Forgot How to Swim

Class of: 2025

Major: Illustration BFA

Medium: Pen, transfer paper, foam core, bristol

Faculty: Vivian Babuts

Prompt: We were tasked with creating an artwork that functions as a series in any medium of choice. The only limitations were that it had to be 3-8 pieces all existing within the same media.

I. I created this series as a reflection of the stages I’ve experienced in the past year. When I started college, everything was new and I experienced it with arms outstretched, grasping for more. For the first time in a while, I felt like I was becoming who I’d imagined I’d be as a child. But not everything was as it seemed. Magnolia branches sprout from the body of the first self-portrait, blooming beautifully, but wilting almost as quickly. A tree just like it grew outside my childhood home on Marlborough Street. The flowers wilted and left the tree without protection from the coming winter.

II. During the second stage I struggled with family and friends with the internal conflicts I had been bottling up reaching a tipping point. I represented this through vultures, picking away at the figure. However, vultures only prey on animals already left for dead by larger predators. In this way, the vultures were not the cause of the problems but unraveled them just the same.

III. The final portrait was the most challenging for me to complete, as it is still fresh, and perhaps not over. It seems to be a period of reflection, not necessarily picking up the pieces, but understanding why it is that they fell apart.

As a child, I had a recurring nightmare of crossing a pool full of prehistoric fish with sharp teeth and slippery scales. Now I am standing in front of the pool, but it is only a fishbowl. And yet I’m still deciding whether or not to cross. I hadn’t stopped to realize they were only goldfish after all.