Barry McNamara  |  Published August 23, 2023

‘Love Letters to Myself’

Alumna Chelle Diederich ’15 opens new season of art exhibits; her gallery talk is Aug. 25.

SIT AND ENJOY: The love seat in the center of Chelle Diedrich's exhibition is not only a piec... SIT AND ENJOY: The love seat in the center of Chelle Diedrich's exhibition is not only a piece in the show, but also a place to relax and enjoy a book from her accompanying reading list. MONMOUTH, Ill. – 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 Sept. 22.

The 2015 graduate will be on campus Aug. 25 for a gallery reception, beginning at 3 p.m. She will talk about her work at 3:30 p.m. The exhibition, reception and gallery talk are all free and open to the public. (Update: Check out pictures from the reception and gallery talk.)

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.”

“Last October, I was startled to realize I had just six months left of being a twenty-something. 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.” Chelle Diederich

Among the titles in the exhibit are “The Perpetual Discrepancy Between the Soul & 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.

JOYFUL COLOR: This is just one of the nearly three dozen pieces in Chelle Diederich's exhibit... JOYFUL COLOR: This is just one of the nearly three dozen pieces in Chelle Diederich's exhibition, which will be on display through Sept. 22.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.”

Listen Up …

On the Monmouth Conversations podcast, Chelle Diederich ’15 discusses the inspiration and sources for “Love Letters to Myself.”

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