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Art Major Makes Connections Statewide

By Clarke News  |  May 1, 2024

Art has always been a part of Lily Nesta’s life. Whether from stories and pieces from her grandfather’s shop in Boston or simply appreciating the natural beauty near her home in Mesa, Arizona, art has colored her world. As she got older, it also became her preferred form of expression. 

“It’s almost like therapy, especially when I am feeling these heavier emotions,” Lily said. “When I was younger, I was afraid of bees. I started drawing and painting them. It helped me appreciate how beautiful they are and the fear receded. It’s the same when I am feeling anxious or angry now. My work helps me process those feelings and I’ve found people connect with the pieces emotionally too.” 

When Lily first started at Clarke as a studio art major, drawing was her medium of choice. That evolved when she started taking painting classes with Associate Professor of Art Jessie Rebik ’02.   

“I fell in love with oil painting because of Jessie,” Lily said. “Really, everyone here is so sweet and supportive. This might sound strange, but I get to work on my art every day and that’s not true of all art programs. The environment here is positive and makes it possible to grow.” 

Lily’s Senior Exhibition, “Girls and Emotion through the Female Gaze” will be on display in the Quigley Gallery until Saturday, May 4, but that is far from the only place you can find her work. At the encouragement of Jessie and Louise Kames, ’77, Lily approached frequent Clarke collaborator Convivium Urban Farmstead to display some of her work. From there, her connections throughout Iowa blossomed. Lily’s paintings have been exhibited at Planted, Esther’s Lounge, and the Dubuque Museum of Art locally, as well as in a juried exhibition at the ArtHaus in Decorah, Iowa. 

“I was selected as the Judges Choice at the ArtHaus Emerging Artists Exhibition, and will have my own solo show this summer,” Lily said. “Being able to showcase my work is so important to build my connections with potential buyers, as well as other artists and supporters.” 

After commencement, Lily intends to continue building her connections in the Dubuque community and growing her portfolio. In time, she would like to pursue graduate school and become an art professor one day.