SMU student Olivia Shawkey on her artistic journey

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Olivia Shawkey almost didn’t study art. A sophomore at SMU, she originally intended to study business. After the completion of her first year, she discovered a sincere desire to reroute to a more creative path. She now studies advertising.

Born and raised in Memphis, Shawkey attended Hutchison, a private, all-girls high school where she discovered her passion for art. She’s an artist that works with various mediums and tools, including sketching, painting, ceramics, and more.

We sat on the grey, carpeted floor of her Ware dorm room while she toggled through scans of her artwork on her computer. She expressed a quiet pride for her talent, a highly admirable quality.

“Art is not only a creative outlet for me to express my creativity,” Shawkey said, “but it allows me to relieve stress in a way that feels both productive and rewarding.”

Her brother, Jack Shawkey, is an SMU alumnus who works in finance in Dallas.

“She was in high school,” said Jack when asked to pinpoint when she discovered her talent. “She started taking AP art and then began drawing absurdly good self-portraits.”

As a college student, Shawkey has pursued art as a hobby though taking classes that allow her to create work in a structured environment. She took Introduction to Drawing and Introduction to Ceramics, where she discovered that sculpture wasn’t her medium. She prefers working graphite pencils.

Shawkey’s passion for art extends from her personal life to academics. She expressed appreciation for the experiences she has gained as a participant in the art program at SMU.

“I have really enjoyed the freedom that my art professors at SMU have given me, as well as their encouragement to complete assignments in ways that aren’t explicitly given in directions,” Shawkey said. “While sometimes it can be easier to be told exactly what to do, it was always more interesting to see how each of my classmates would interpret and execute an assignment, rather than seeing a room full of identical pieces.”

Shawkey uses art both as a vehicle of self-expression on a personal level and to give to others as well. Friends and family inspire Shawkey to create and share her passion with others, which makes it even more valuable.

“She tends to draw/paint/etc. pieces of friends and relatives and then gifts the art to them,” Jack said.

When she switched her major, the blueprint for her college and professional career underwent a significant change that allows for her to fulfill her deeply intuitive life purpose to practice what truly makes her happy: creating art.

“It has taught me to see the world in an innovative way and to always strive for originality in all aspects of my life,” said Shawkey.

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