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 ...
Myrtle L. Bryant
A private funeral service celebrating the life of Myrtle L. Bryant of Farrell was held Saturday March 8, 2014, in Love Christian Center, Farrell. She departed this life March 3, 2014, in John XXIII Home, Hermitage. She was 88.
Ervin ‘Red’ J. Osborne
Ervin “Red” J. Osborne of Sharpsville passed away at 3:58 p.m. Friday in his home surrounded by his family after an extended illness. He was 86.
A funeral service will be held Wednesday for William Waclaski of Brookfield, who passed away Friday afternoon, March 7, 2014, in Heritage Manor in Youngstown. He was 90.
Carolyn Coon Brown Cronin
Carolyn Coon Brown Cronin of Ross Township, formerly of Sharon, died Friday afternoon, March 7, 2014, in Passavant Hospital, Pittsburgh. She was 87.
William L. Duncan obit photo
William L. Duncan of Butler passed away at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Forbes Hospice in Pittsburgh. He was 69.
Diane D. Harper
Diane D. Harper of Hermitage, formerly of Florida, died Tuesday, March 4, 2014. She was 82.
William Nespor of 190 Boyd Drive, Hermitage, passed away unexpectedly at 10:43 p.m. Thursday (3-6-14) in the emergency room of Sharon Regional Health System. He was 85.
George Raich of Hermitage passed away at 1:27 a.m. Friday, March 7, 2014, in the hospital of Sharon Regional Health System after an extended illness. He was 76.
Robert J. Fuller
Robert J. Fuller of Masury was called home to the Lord on Thursday morning, March 6, 2014, in his home. He was 72.
A funeral service will be held Tuesday for Calvin Holloway of Sharon. He passed away early Wednesday morning, March 5, 2014, in the intensive care unit of Sharon Regional Health System. He was 59.
Lucille J. Parker
A funeral service will be held Monday for Lucille J. Parker of 760 Division St., Sharon. She passed away early Wednesday morning, March 5, 2014, in her home. She was 92.
Adam Puhl Jr.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Monday for Adam Puhl Jr. of Strawbridge Ave., Sharon. He passed away peacefully at 10:25 a.m. Wednesday (3-5-14) in his residence after an extended illness. He was 79.
Harlan E. Shaffer Sr.
Harlan E. Shaffer Sr. of 6073 SW 104th Lane, Ocala, and 1649 Everett Ave., Youngstown, died at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Hospice Legacy in Ocala. He was 81.
Mary Joan Girlinghouse Egan
Mary Joan Girlinghouse Egan, a resident since 1993 of 168 Latonka Drive, Jackson Township (Mercer), passed away at 12:50 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in The Overlook nursing home, New Wilmington. She was 81.
Colleen Grossman of Hermitage passed away peacefully at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday (3-4-14) surrounded by family in her daughter’s residence after a three-month illness. She was 81.
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