Student Spotlight: Lydia Ramm and Nikki Stinchcombe
By Prof. Jennifer Phenix
In the degree breadth course, Heroes in Classical and Contemporary Myth (LITT27028GD), students are invited to reflect on contemporary receptions of classical heroes, motifs of hero myth, and Joseph Campbell’s monomyth pattern. This term, students were asked to watch Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth and to read an article by John Perlich titled “Rethinking the Monomyth: Pan’s Labyrinth and the Face of the New Hero(ine).” As part of their Critical Response to the film and article, students were to reflect on how the article impacted and influenced their perception of Ofelia as a heroine experiencing the hero’s journey according to Campbell’s monomyth pattern. One feature of the hero’s journey is the importance of the helper or helpers along the way, and this is where the figure of the Faun, a satyr-like creature in the film, captured the attention both of Perlich and many of the students. One such student was Lydia Ramm, a third year student in the Bachelor of Animation program. For Lydia, the Faun was so fascinating, in his appearance and his controversial guidance, that she felt inspired to create a digital painting of him. When Lydia showed me her work, my first thoughts were how her Faun painting captured the mystery and magic of Ofelia’s helper and at the same time seemed to reflect the awe that was inspired in the artist herself.
Students in the Bachelor of Illustration program are required to complete a thesis project in the fourth and final year of the program. Back in 2014, Nikki Stinchcombe was in her final year of the Illustration program and came to me with an idea to do her thesis project on the dangerous women of myth. Nikki was very intrigued by and drawn to the femme fatales of myth, having studied various mythic women, both mortal and divine, in Mikal Radford’s Goddess: Images of the Feminine Divine (RELG23672GD) course and my Heroes in Classical and Contemporary Myth (LITT27028GD) and Mythology in Literature, Art, and Film (HUMN21518GD) courses. Nikki turned her thesis into a book, which you can preview (and purchase, if you are so inspired) here. I asked if she would share with Alchemy her Medusa painting (which she includes as a postcard in her book) along with a glimpse of the artwork in the book, and she replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!” What is fortunate about this is that you get to enjoy Medusa’s stare without fear of being petrified!