Visionary Emilie Hotz challenges feminine norms through her artwork

Visionary Emilie Hotz challenges feminine norms  through her artwork

Leah Boynton

Fourth-year Emilie Hotz can be found in the Wardman Gymnasium with her hair pinned back and her focus on the canvas in front of her. She picks up her paint brush and sweeps it across the page with confidence as she envisions the final product. 

Hotz is a Studio Art major with a focus in painting. She specializes in oil and acrylic, but recently has been exploring sculpture as well. She was recently hired as the Graphic Designer at MADLAB and is a Community Advisor (CA) in Stauffer. She is also an Admissions Student Ambassador and gives tours on campus. 

Courtsey of Emilie Hotz

Courtsey of Emilie Hotz

Hotz is from Coppell, Texas and chose Whittier because she thought the campus was beautiful and the College gave her the opportunity to explore different majors. “I had no idea what I wanted to study when I came in,” said Hotz. “I loved that I was given both the space and time to figure out what I wanted to do.” 

In art, Hotz has found her passion. “It took me a while to gain the confidence to declare as an Art major. I say confidence because everyone doubts you,” said Hotz. “Everyone asks ‘how are you going to make money?’ and ‘what are you going to do?’ I would encourage students, whether it’s art or not, to take those risks. You can major in anything, and there is going to be a job out there. Don’t let that fear stop you.” 

Hotz’s art explores the topic of femininity, and she discovered that she enjoys painting art that deals with emotions and finding herself. All of her artwork is very personal to her. Hotz took a painting class her second year that inspired her to explore because she was given the freedom to paint whatever she wanted. “I could include topics like feminism, the female body, lots of philosophical concepts, too … that are kind of abstract that art allows you to articulate through images,” said Hotz.

She critiques the norms that society creates around sex through her work. “I’m very interested in desexualizing the female body, while at the same time celebrating female sexuality in the way that [I] view it, not necessarily in the way that patriarchal society [does],” said Hotz. “It’s complicated because females are interested in sexuality too, just not in this hyper-sexualized culture of pornography.” 

One of Hotz’s favorite pieces of her art is a self portrait of her crying. She enjoyed creating the piece because it reminded her that no one is perfect and those imperfections should be normalized. Another one of her favorites she created during her second year. She painted a hand holding a tampon dripping in rainbow colors. “It’s kind of taking this taboo subject that a lot of people are grossed out by, and I glamorized it,” said Hotz. “Not to glamorize periods, but to celebrate what we are and what the female body can do.”

Hotz has found much of her inspiration in her mentors in the Art Department. “I love a lot of my art professors; they are super helpful and empowering,” said Hotz. “For example, Jenny Herrick has taught me how to talk about art in an academic way. She’s always encouraging me to try different art forms [and pushes] me to take scary chances.” 

Courtsey of Emilie Hotz

Courtsey of Emilie Hotz

When she isn’t in the Wardman Gymnasium working on her own pieces, Hotz is preparing to teach art to kids. Every Friday, she teaches art after school at Mill Elementary for the California Foundation for Performing Arts. Hotz works with approximately 30 students and leads them in an arts and craft project or teaches them about a famous painter. “One of the most rewarding things is when a student will say ‘I love art. I want to do this more,’” said Hotz. “Kids have such a pure joy, especially when making art. Kids are much more creative because they aren’t self conscious. I love that.” 

Hotz is also involved in many other areas of campus, like in the Office of Admission giving tours and in Stauffer as a CA. She says that her role as a CA has brought her out of her shell. “I love it because you bond strongly with other CAs,” said Hotz. “Such crazy things happen that you bond with your co-workers. I really like it so far; it has been really tough but definitely worth it.” 

During her second year, Hotz also studied abroad in India — an experience that she will never forget. “I was always drawn to India because I never thought I’d be able to go there. It’s not a popular tourist destination, and I wanted to know what it was like. I love the food. I love the philosophy and their culture. It’s so interesting to me.” 

Hotz encourages all students to study abroad if they are given the chance. She learned a lot about herself especially when traveling alone in a country where she did not speak the language. “[Studying abroad] is a confidence boost when you do something that big,” said Hotz. 

In the Spring, Hotz will be creating an exhibition for the Greenleaf Gallery in Mendenhall. The pieces will be a part of a series that will all go together. Hotz is thinking of combining painting and sculpture and is spending the Fall semester exploring different topics to determine what she is going to create. Hotz hopes to someday go to graduate school for graphic design. She plans to take a year off of school to build a graphic design portfolio. She is looking forward to what the future holds for her and cannot wait to continue creating and painting.