Kicking the habit one stroke at a time
Assistant Managing Editor
The walls of the MCC are adorned with cigarettes.
“The Cigarette Series,” an 8-piece creation by senior Art major Manda Shae Dickinson, is on display for Cameron University Art Guild’s first ever Artist of the Month.
Dickinson created the series while taking a summer class with Kathy Liontas-Warren, CU Professor of Art, during which she completed an entire piece every one to two days.
“I had this idea last spring, but no time to complete it. I told myself, ‘I’m going to do it this summer,’ and I came in with sketches ready to go, and I just got to work.”
A smoker for almost three years, Dickinson explained she was inspired to create each piece from her decision to give up cigarettes.
“I know I can relate to other smokers that are trying to quit,” Dickinson said. “But I also wanted to put in a very whimsical and sometimes a little humorous way of smoking cigarettes.”
Each piece of “The Cigarette Series” is a mixed media piece, made from materials like pastels, watercolors and colored pencils.
Seven of the eight pieces are on display in the MCC, each featuring cigarettes in an unconventional way.
“Carcinoglen” features a forest of cigarettes, while “Cigarett-o’s” is of a girl eating a bowl of cigarettes.
In order to be selected as Art Guild Artist of the Month, Dickinson explained one must be a member as well as submit five images along with an artist statement.
The Art Guild then votes to select the Artist of the Month.
“I ended up being the only one that applied,” Dickinson admitted. “What’s supposed to happen is we’re supposed to get two artists of the month so one person hangs on one wall and one hangs on the other, but since nobody else I applied, I got both walls.”
An artist for most of her life, Dickinson said the first time she fell in love with art was in her second grade art class with “Mr. Mallory.”
“From a very young age I knew I was an artist,” Dickinson said. “I got to pose as a model the first day of class, and I was just like, ‘Oh this is so great.’ I was in it. I stood as still as I could, and for a kid in second grade, that’s really hard. After that, art class was my favorite class to go to every year in school. Anything art related, I was all over it.”
Already having shown art in the Duncan Simmons Center and tattoo shop, Rebellious Ink, Dickinson said she plans to make art her career.
“I did have my doubts though,” Dickinson confessed. “Art is really intimidating; it’s very competitive. But I think, after my second year, I had pretty much decided what I wanted to do. I just wanted to pursue making art, because it’s what I love to do. I’d rather do something I love than something I don’t.”
Now smoke-free for four months, Dickinson added: “That’s why I used this series to quit… I had to stare at it every day and just think about it and constantly remind myself why I am quitting and why I want to quit.”
Throughout the creation of the Cigarette Series, Dickinson said she learned that quitting needs to be something a person is doing for themselves before anyone else.
“Every time you smoke a cigarette, you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s another day off my life,’ but it has to be for you. It can’t be based on anybody else. They can be your foundation to quit, but you have to want it.