JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP —
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away ...
Oops, those lines were taken by George Lucas in the original “Star Wars” movie, but they also fit a world created by Victoria Ludwig.
While much of that world remains in her head, the Jefferson Township woman has some of it on display at Westminster College, New Wilmington, in her senior art project.
Ludwig, a 2009 Mercer Area High School graduate is inviting visitors to Foster Art Gallery, Patterson Hall, to catch a glimpse of Epsylophia, as chronicled by Dr. Takuma Sochiko.
As Ludwig described it, Epsylophia and Earth were connected at one point in the distant past, but lost that connection after a devastating war.
Sochiko is a “kind of academic explorer” who finds a portal to Epsylophia, she said.
“He’s just another human being and he’s studying this connection Earth used to have with this other world,” Ludwig said of Sochiko.
Ludwig presents Sochiko’s journal entries of his visit to Epsylophia with colored drawings of the people he met, the creatures he saw, the way he lived, the architecture and landscape of the place and events he witnessed.
“The whole piece tells the story of this character I created,” said Ludwig, whose sister, Elizabeth, helped her choose the colors shown in her drawings.
Since about eighth grade, Ludwig has been developing a story for an animation project she would someday like to create.
“I wanted to create a prequel to it,” she said, and the prequel became her senior art project.
With the help of her father, Richard, Ludwig built a structure – based on a tent Sochiko lived in in Epsylophia – from which to hang her drawings.
The structure is made of creature bones and plant materials from Epsylophia, with an unrolled scroll as a roof, the letters on the scroll from the language of the people who live there. One of the drawings includes a key to translating the language.
“If you really wanted to, you could work through and translate it,” Ludwig said. “It has a story on it. It’s basically an overview of the other planet.”
There is text on the drawings, but much text is missing, allowing viewers to fill in the gaps with their own interpretations, she said.
The creatures of Epsylophia are notable not just because of their similarity to or difference from Earth creatures, but because the relationships the denizens of Epsylophia have with them goes beyond what is typical on Earth.
“On this planet, they have such a connection with animals that they become bonded with certain creatures,” she said.
Some of the creatures have similarities to Earth dinosaurs, birds and reptiles, and Ludwig took inspiration from Chinese mythology for others. She also created her own creatures, such as a water-based animal with psychic powers.
The visit is transformative for Sochiko – “He ends up feeling like this is where he belongs,” Ludwig said – so much so that he marries a resident of Epsylophia, a woman who is a spiritual leader of her people.
“I made sure to include some kind of love story,” she said.
Sochiko eventually returns to Earth “so he can report his findings,” and the heartbreak of leaving his wife and the life he created there is part of the story, Ludwig said.
Sochiko’s visit “rekindles their (residents of Epsylophia) trust in humanity and the hope that the worlds can be connected again,” she said.
On Earth, his stories are met with disbelief.
The exhibit shows an animation style that is more realistic than is typical of American animation, but also has traces of traditional American animation and Japanese anime, Ludwig said.
A lifelong fan of cartoon and Disney movies, Ludwig sees animation as bridging her interests in literature and the visual arts.
“Just the idea of taking something you’ve created and making it come alive on the screen is something I’ve always loved,” she said.
Ludwig is completing a double major in English and fine arts with a minor in secondary education, and hopes to pursue teaching while simultaneously furthering her education in animation. Her ultimate goal would be to open her own animation studio.
“I’m willing to work my way up,” she said.
She stopped short of calling Sochiko an alter ego, but said she shares with him perseverance and an interest in learning more about the world around them, giving viewers a small sense of her as they learn about him.
“I always try to include parts of myself in everything I do,” she said. “That’s what connects me to the work.”
The exhibit is up through March 29.
JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP —
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away ...
Dorothie L. Barger
Dorothie L. Barger, formerly of Sunset Avenue, Grove City, passed away after an extended illness at 11:22 a.m. Monday, July 28, 2014, in Grove Manor, Grove City, where she was a resident since February 2013. She was 85.
Rosemary Rossi Fry
Rosemary Rossi Fry of Farrell, passed away at 6:15 a.m. Saturday (7-26-14) in Greenery Specialty Care, Canonsburg, Pa., after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 66.
John Z. Roshala
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Thursday for John Z. Roshala of Hermitage. He passed away at 4:20 a.m. Sunday (7-27-14) in the Intensive Care Unit of Sharon Regional Health System with his loving family by his side, after a brief illness. He was 73.
Frances M. Vellente DiPiero
Frances M. Vellente DiPiero of 337 Frederick Drive, Farrell, formerly of Sharon and Campbell, Ohio, passed away peacefully at 12:25 a.m. Monday, July 28, 2014, in John XXIII Home in Hermitage, after an extended illness. She was 86.
Frank George Opalensky
Frank George Opalensky, formerly of Masury, passed away peacefully with his family by his side Sunday morning, July 27, 2014, in the home of his beloved daughter, Jean and her husband Nick Kusich of Avella, where he had lived for the past year. He was 95.
Eleanor Eileen Kaufman
Eleanor Eileen Kaufman of Shenango Presbyterian Senior Care, New Wilmington, formerly of South Market Street, New Wilmington, died Saturday evening (7-26-14) in the Shenango Senior Care. She was 93.
Nancy L. Kitsch
Nancy L. Kitsch of West Middlesex, formerly of Farrell, passed away unexpectedly at 7:15 a.m. Saturday (7-26-14) in Jameson Hospital in New Castle. She was 76.
Thomas P. McComb
Thomas P. McComb of Hermitage passed away at 10:25 p.m. Saturday (7-26-14) in the hospital of Sharon Regional Health System after a courageous and valiant battle with cancer. He was 66.
Jack H. Blystone
Jack H. Blystone of Hermitage passed away at 10:42 p.m. Thursday (7-24-14) in Juniper Village at the Shenango Inn, Sharon. He was 86.
Myrtle Irene Knauff
Myrtle Irene Knauff, formerly of Old Ash Road, Springfield Township, passed away after an extended illness at 6:45 a.m. Friday, July 25, 2014, in Orchard Manor, Pine Township, where she resided since 2005. She was 88.
Leona M. Peters Casacia
Leona M. Peters Casacia of 745 Greenville Road, Coolspring Township, passed away at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Avalon Springs, Coolspring Township. She was 87.
William H. Spon
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Monday for William H. Spon, formerly of Emilie Lane, Hermitage. He passed away peacefully of natural causes Wednesday (7-23-14) in O’Brien Memorial Nursing Home, Masury, where he was a resident for the past year. He was 92.
William T. ‘Tom’ Johnson Sr.
William T. “Tom” Johnson Sr. of Jefferson Township passed away at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 22, 2014, in the emergency room of UPMC Horizon, Farrell. He was 74.
Janet E. Patton
A memorial service will be held Saturday for Janet E. Patton of Mercer, formerly of Charlotte Avenue, Hermitage. She passed away at 5:25 p.m. Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Countryside Convalescent Home, Coolspring Township, after an extended illness. She was 96.
Wilma ‘Bunny’ Christman
Wilma Christman, affectionately known as Bunny, of Hermitage passed away early Monday morning, July 21, 2014, in her residence. She was 93.
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- Dorothie L. Barger