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WKU student creates artwork for Iceland’s president

Katie Adams said she is still “trying to wrap my head around” the experience of creating original artwork that now hangs in the office of the president of Iceland.

WKU junior Katie Adams created an original piece of art that was recently presented to the president of Iceland. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

WKU junior Katie Adams created an original piece of art that was recently presented to the president of Iceland. Her creation depicts an Icelandic horse at the water’s edge. When inverted, viewers see a jockey on a Kentucky thoroughbred in the water’s reflection. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

The Bowling Green junior said she fell in love with Iceland during a visit last summer with the Toppers at Sea program. Her professors from the trip, Leslie North and Jason Polk, saw her artistic creations on Facebook and asked her to create something they could present to President Ólafur Grímsson during a return trip in March.

Even though she only had five days, Adams said she was not going to let the opportunity pass her by. She spent about 30 hours, in addition to going to class and work, creating a colored pencil drawing that ties Iceland with Kentucky.

“It’s just exciting to get to create a piece that reflects my experience that I had in Iceland because it is such a beautiful country,” she said. Her creation depicts an Icelandic horse at the water’s edge. When inverted, viewers see a jockey on a Kentucky thoroughbred in the water’s reflection.

“Some of the information that I was given was that they wanted to incorporate the connection between Iceland and Kentucky and climate change,” Adams said. “While we were there, we learned about the rising sea levels because we visited a town that is right on the water line and this is something that would affect them greatly.”

Iceland and Kentucky share a love of and pride in native horses that is unique, she said. And since she has always been interested in horses, it was a natural connection for her illustration.

Drs. North and Polk traveled to Iceland in March with WKU President Gary Ransdell and Scholar-in-Residence Bernie Strenecky to sign an agreement with the University of Akureyri and the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network to create the North Atlantic Climate Change Collaboration. While there, they also met with President Grímsson. (Read more on WKU’s program in Iceland.)

WKU President Gary Ransdell presented a piece of original artwork by WKU junior Katie Adams to Iceland President Olafur Grimsson. (WKU photo by Jeff Younglove)

WKU President Gary Ransdell presented a piece of original artwork by WKU junior Katie Adams to Iceland President Olafur Grimsson. (WKU photo by Jeff Younglove)

“What Katie did was incredible and President Grímsson was absolutely blown away by that original piece of art,” Dr. Ransdell said.

Adams described her artwork as having tranquility and peace.

“It’s kind of got a easy look to it. It’s something you look at and you see the Icelandic horse and then the reflection is kind of like that little bit of something extra that you notice,” she said. “Then once you see it, it brings it all together.”

Adams said she spent the first day working in pencil to put her ideas on paper.

“It’s not just what you see, it’s trying to figure out how to put it together so the viewer can see what it is,” she said. “You see that it’s a reflection, but what colors make that reflection or how can you put that on paper to make sure it is seen the way you want it to be seen. That’s the real struggle.”

The opportunity was especially meaningful for Adams, who recently changed her major from interior design to art.

“I’ve always drawn and it’s something I’ve been passionate about,” she said. “This is kind of a reassurance that I’m doing the right thing for myself and I’m lucky that I got this opportunity because many people don’t. I’m just honored by it.”

More: WKU in Iceland; View from the Hill on Iceland agreement; WKU group meets with Iceland’s president; WKU extends international reach to Arctic

Contact: Bob Skipper, (270) 745-4295

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