Cabrini students pose for Maxwell’s illustrations

By Abigail Keefe
January 31, 2002

Amy Gassen

Three desks are pushed together in the middle of the room. A plethora of cabinets and a sea of art projects fill the office of the art department, located in the basement of Holy Spirit Library. Some of the projects are finished, some are not. A statue of the Virgin Mary hovers near the top of the far wall from the door, looking down on everyone who enters the crowded office.

Cassandre Maxwell, adjunct professor of fine arts, is one of the professors that makes camp in the art department office. Sketchpads and drafting papers clutter this artist’s desk. Currently, she is working on illustrating a children’s book, entitled “The Saint that became St. Nicholas.” The book is to be published by Regina Press over the summer.

The illustration process

In order to illustrate the pictures for the book, Maxwell uses pictures of the scenes that she draws. “Artists really need photographs as a jump off point,” Maxwell said.

Three Cabrini students, Cory Salizar, senior, Brooke Keller, senior, and first-year student Margarita Espenozo, posed for pictures for Maxwell to use as a base for her illustrations.

“I was not sure how I was going to get models for the book,” Maxwell said. “One day I noticed a student walking through the library who looked perfect.” She then decided to ask students to model for her.

Salizar posed for all of the male characters in the book. “I was flattered that she thought that I could be drawn in a book,” Salizar said. “We did three shoots that took about an hour each.”

“I made some makeshift costumes and draped them over the students and photographed them in a variety of poses,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell then draws sketches for the book based on the photographs of the students. “I’m working mainly in pastel and acrylic,” Maxwell said. “It’s a new style that I am sort of settling into.”

The story of St. Nick

The roles that the students fill are based on the story of Saint Nicholas. According to Maxwell, the version that she is illustrating takes place in Turkey.

“There really is a Saint Nicholas or a Nicholas who became a saint,” Maxwell said. “He was born into a very wealthy family in the town of Myra. After his parents died, he inherited a lot of money. His parents always hoped that he would become a champion of the people-the book tells how he did, indeed, live up to his name.”

The story has many versions. According to Maxwell, one version centers on a very poor man who has three daughters and not enough money for a dowry to marry any of them off.

“Nicholas heard about this and at night, took a bag of gold and dropped it in the window of this family and the older daughter was married off,” Maxwell said. Nicholas did this with the other two daughters as well. The father caught him while he was delivering enough gold to marry off the third daughter. “When the father thanked Nicholas, he told the father to give thanks to God,” Maxwell said.

“The book will be out in July to be able to get into the bookstores by Christmas,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell studied art at Moore College of Art and Design and at Tyler School of Art. Already under her professional belt are six children’s books that she wrote and illustrated. She has worked on a number of illustrations for other authors. She was the creative research manager for Hallmark cards.

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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