By Mellany Armstrong
A connection with an alumna helped Kaitlin Woodlen make her decision to go to Moore.
The senior Illustration major said Mary Lou Dallam ’66 attends her church in Harrisburg, Pa.
“She’s the whole reason I got to this point,” Woodlen said. “I actually met her through my mom. My mom talked with her and learned Mary Lou went to Moore and how it’s a really good art school.”
Born in Ma’an Shan City, An Hui Province, China, Woodlen was adopted when she was 18 months old. She’s been drawing since she was very small.
“From the time I can remember, I was always artistic,” she said. “I’m very visual and learn by doing things.”
At first, she chose to draw only in grayscale, with a graphite pencil. That changed when she was in middle school.
“My mom gave me these art kits that had color, and I was just not interested,” she said. “I just looked at it and I went, ‘huh.’” Then she picked up a colored pencil. Her polychromatic scribbles opened her eyes to other media, like acrylics and gouache. “I’m very traditional, not digital,” she said.
Shy and soft-spoken, the Visionary Woman Honors Program student has had to overcome her fear of public speaking. Woodlen recently presented a session titled “Unlikely Leadership from an Introvert” at Moore’s 2019 Leadership Conference for Women in the Arts on March 2.
“I talked about unlikely leadership, which is people who consider themselves as introverted, and don’t think they are leaders,” she said. “The word ‘leader’ I think most people are intimidated by.”
Before her presentation, Woodlen took speech classes to tackle her anxiety. Even though she was very nervous as she spoke – “It felt like my soul just went into another universe” – her appreciative audience applauded.
Graduation is not far off, and Woodlen knows what she would like to do as a career.
“I’m hoping to get a job working as a children’s book illustrator,” she said. Woodlen has been working on her own wordless picture book, Farmer Ducky’s Fall, which tells the tale of a duck who falls into a hole, befriends a rabbit and goes into business with him. She’s been developing the story by painting scenes in acrylic on cardboard tiles.
Woodlen is also interested in product illustration, and would like to make art for items like baby bibs, totes and mugs to go along with children’s books.
She said she has built up more than her art skills at Moore.
“I gained a lot of confidence in myself,” she said. “Way back when I was a freshman, I was that girl who just faded into the background and didn’t want any attention on herself.” Friends helped her with her self-esteem. “They would say, ‘You’re worth it, your word matters, too.’ I started understanding, yeah, ok, I can open up a little bit more.”
Dallam, who had wanted to become a children’s book illustrator but became an art teacher, is very excited for her young friend from church.
“I try to encourage her,” Dallam said. “I have just had such a wonderful time following her path at Moore.”