MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (August 23, 2023) — Themes of growth, mental health, self-actualization and joy are present in the first art exhibition of the 2023-24 academic year at Monmouth College.

In a solo exhibition, alumna Chelle Diederich is displaying nearly three dozen works she's titled Love Letters to Myself. The exhibition will be on display in the Len G Everett Gallery on the upper level of Hewes Library through September 22.

The 2015 graduate will be on campus August 25 for a gallery reception, beginning at 3PM. She will talk about her work at 3:30PM. The exhibition, reception, and gallery talk are all free and open to the public.

An oil painter based in the Green Bay, Wisconsin, area, Diederich said she is interested in painting with bright colors, joyful aesthetics, and the big thoughts, feelings, and emotions that enter her mind.

"This collection is full of color and experimentation," she said. "It's somehow joyful and deep at the same time."After completing a double major in art and French at Monmouth, Diederich earned a Master's in Business administration from St Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

"Last October, I was startled to realize I had just six months left of being a twenty-something," she said. "I claimed the months as the season of me falling in love with myself, just as I am, in the life that I'm living, just as it is. I'm weird and wonderful and, most of all, I'm happy. These paintings are my love letters to myself during this season of healing and growth and acceptance."

Among the titles in the exhibit are "The Perpetual Discrepancy Between the Soul and Its Envelope" and "Being a Damsel in Distress Sounds Exhausting."

"The titles are a fun mixture of texts I've sent or received, pop-culture references, affirmations, and acceptances of who I am, and a stupid joke that helped me get through one of the worst periods of my life," said Diederich.

She has also included a suggested reading list to go along with the exhibit, with titles including Joyful by Ingrid Fettell Lee, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo.Diederich is also the creator of nicknames for herself, and she features two on the home page of her website: "Professional Weirdo" and "Healer of Sad Beige Homes."

"Growing up, I was never the kid that knew what I wanted to be when I grew up," she said. "I remember wanting to be a ballerina at Disney World, an Olympic swimmer, a fashion designer, and a whole host of other weird options. That entire time, it was always art that had enchanted me. In a letter from my grandma, she remarked, 'Art was always your first love.' And in truth, I think I always knew I wanted to be creative, to do something with my hands, and to bring joy into this world."

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