Student Spotlight: Headley illustrating book for thesis

Logan Raschke, Staff Reporter

Rhana Headley was the president of the poster club as an undergraduate student and is now working on a book for her master’s thesis.

Headley is a graduate student pursuing a master’s in 2D studio art with an emphasis in printmaking and sculpture.

Headley said she and other members of the poster club produce prints for advertisers and other organizations primarily through the process of screen printing.

“Being Mortal” is a poster Headley worked on for the Being Mortal Community Book Club, and the club is still producing more prints today, she said.

“The proceeds of people purchasing the poster go back to the community book club to fund their club,” she said.

Some of the proceeds also go to purchasing necessary supplies for the poster club, such as photo emulsion, paper and ink, she said.

Headley said the book club wanted a specific concept in her poster that accurately reflected a graceful acceptance of death, which is part of the book club’s discussion.

“I was thinking of muses or goddesses and I was thinking of figures (without) too many overloaded clichés of death, like skulls,” she said. “I was thinking more like lilies … I wanted this woman surrounded by funeral flowers and I had her talking with a crow, which is in some other mythos considered to be the carrier to another afterlife.”

Headley said she practices two different processes of printmaking: screen printing and lithography, but she does screen printing most often.

“Screen printing is using a fine mesh piece of polyester silk stretched onto a frame … you sort of create a stencil so that ink only flows through certain parts of it, but doesn’t flow through the rest of it,” she said. “Then you basically print really finely detailed stencils.” 

Assistant art professor Alan Pocaro said he and Headley have worked together on a number of projects for the poster club.

“I have been working with (Headley) for four years now,” he said. “I worked with her for three years as an undergraduate and I’m working with her now.”

After years of working with Headley, Pocaro said he noticed how she has developed into a great leader and artist.

“The great thing about Rhana at this stage is that in terms of execution, she doesn’t really need a lot of help,” he said. “I try to kind of be a sounding board for her to bounce ideas off of.”

While Headley is still involved with the poster club, she is also creating a book that she will completely illustrate for her master’s thesis, she said.

“What I’m working on for my master’s thesis … is how to take the oral tradition of telling epics in an artistic form,” she said. “I’m trying to integrate a form of books so the piece itself can tell (the reader) the actual story.”

Headley said she describes the book she is illustrating as having a children’s storybook style with a somewhat cautionary tale, and it conveys the concept that stories are not just meant to entertain but also to learn life lessons.

Her book has a serious personal story about how people’s perceptions of common objects can change after a loved one has died, she said.

Headley also said she will be printing multiple books whenever her thesis is finished.

“(My thesis book) will create more books because I’ll do it through a form of printmaking,” she said. “After that book, I’ll have different books and they’ll increase in complexity of style.”

Headley said how smoothly the process of illustrating and printing her thesis book goes will determine how many she prints.

For Headley, her plan for a future career is a little foggy for now, but she is looking forward to it, she said.

“My plan is to go wherever the opportunities take me,” she said.

Logan Raschke can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].