Southeast Student Explores Window into Human Nature as Catapult’s May Artist of the Month


The Catapult Creative House Student Studios will celebrate its May Artist of the Month with an exhibition titled “Fight Me! The battle of sins” by Southeast Missouri State University student artist Elena Nunez of St. Louis, Missouri.

The exhibition is currently on display on the second floor of Catapult Creative House, 612 Broadway in downtown Cape Girardeau, and will run through May 5 with a reception to be held from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, May 4.

The inherent vulnerability of life is essential to the human experience; from jealousy and loss to the struggle for power, the painter Nunez clouds this susceptibility in surreal drama that explores the nature of this contest. Belied by saturated hues and the wide-eyed participants, each painting is a window into human nature, or rather a pseudo-dream sequence buoyed by uplifting color and relatable emotions. And yet Nunez confronts the viewer with bold, volatile mark-making and graphic imagery that reinforces the intensity of conflict and the myriad iterations of its role in our lives.

“Two of my paintings, including ‘In the Time of the Butterflies,’ is about my family in the Dominican Republic,” Nunez said. “They are inspired by the infamous Mirabel Sisters, who were political activists who rebelled against the evil dictator Trujillo and ultimately were martyred for their actions.

“The title ‘In the Time of the Butterflies,’ is based off the book by Julia Alverez and the movie with Salma Hayek,” Nunez continued. “The Mirabel sisters, or ‘Las Mariposas,’ are my grandmother’s cousins. It is fascinating to be related to such impactful women that are literally honored worldwide every year by the UN!”

Each month and as a part of a program to promote community-based and integrated art making, a student artist is chosen to exhibit his or her work at Catapult Creative House’s Student Studio Gallery. These exhibitions showcase a range of work from individual artists that highlights their personal and professional artistic explorations as a part of the southeast Missouri art community. These artists explore the physicality of the human condition, its relationship to nature and the role of art in contemporary society. In addition to the exhibition, attendees are welcome to tour the studio spaces, view ongoing projects, and engage with the artists.

“When I set up my exhibit, it was a surreal feeling seeing that all my paintings can fill up a room and stand alone independently with their narratives, but at the same time are cohesive in style and motifs,” Nunez said. “I believe this solo exhibition has given me the confidence to tackle future endeavors in the art world. My paintings are purposefully dynamic and colorful so that the viewer can’t help but feel invited to participate and contribute to my larger narratives.

“My biggest wish is that they take away some part of the story I attempt to visually demonstrate,” she said.

Nunez, of St. Louis, Missouri, is a senior double majoring in biology, biomedical sciences option, and fine art, painting option. At Southeast, she serves as a member of the Southeast Student Government Association, serving on the Special Projects Committee and representing the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts. She has participated in the President’s Leadership Academy and the Jane Stephens Honors Program, and in spring 2017, she was presented the First-Year Student Award at the annual Student Life and Leadership Awards program. She aspires to become a chiropractor and to combine her love of science and art by illustrating textbooks of the anatomy and the body in motion. A recipient of the Jack Buck Scholar-Leadership Award at Southeast, Nunez is a graduate of Kirkwood High School.