WKU art student garners significant support and inspiration from faculty

When Cecilia Morris first arrived at WKU she wasn’t even certain that she wanted to become an art major.  However, after taking an introductory drawing class from Professor Mike Nichols…she was hooked.  “I fell in love with the Art Department here before I even declared my major!  It’s like a family here,” she says.

Cecilia Morris is from Whitesville, Kentucky. She started at WKU in the fall of 2016, and expects to graduate in spring 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a Ceramics concentration, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design.  She has also earned a certificate in Brewing and Distilling and is thrilled to have procured this skill from WKU!

Falling in love with the fresco painting technique

During her introductory drawing class, Cecilia was listening to Professor Nichols explain the details about fresco painting, the technique used by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy.  He mentioned that he had perfected this technique and would love to teach any interested students.  Cecilia immediately inquired about it, and was enthusiastic about learning this time-honored way of painting onto fresh plaster.

Mike wasn’t currently teaching a class about fresco painting, but explained she could stay after school and learn on weekends.  She began practicing on small tiles, as the plaster dries quickly and therefore can be challenging to navigate in larger pieces.

She then took his fresco technique class in the summer, and began working on the fresco wall with another student, Bailey Jordan.  She became deeply immersed in the technique, developed a zealous love of fresco, and honed her skills whenever possible.

Cecilia Morris and Bailey Jordan making a fresco on the fresco learning wall at WKU.

Fascinating art showcase

Another amazing opportunity Mike offered to Cecilia was to paint fresco at an annual event held in Bowling Green community called the Maker Faire; a family-friendly, community-based showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. The gathering celebrates the maker culture, nurtures new ideas, and shares connections, experiments, projects, hobbies and skills.

Click here for more information about the Maker Faire in Bowling Green: https://www.facebook.com/pg/bgminimakerfaire/about/

WKU student Cecilia Morris demonstrating fresco at Bowling Green Maker’s Fair

A new twist on fresco

Cecilia is currently working to push the limits of traditional fresco, and has designed a ground-breaking 3-D fresco project.  She created and welded a steel rod sculpture, added wire mesh, and combined the mediums by applying fresco tiles to the innovative piece.  “During this process, Mike and my other instructor often came down during their lunch breaks to assist and encourage me.  They were both very helpful, and loved the fact that I was combining mediums.  It was very exciting to have their guidance and support,” says Cecilia.

Cecilia creating her 3-D fresco project, under the direction of Professor Mike Nichols


A close-up of 3-D fresco tiles applied to a welded steel rod sculpture, created by Cecilia Morris.

Love for ceramics

Expanding to another medium, Cecilia is also fascinated by ceramics, and is currently creating a series of functional cups that have hands attached to them, exploring the idea that one can actually hold the hand when using it.  “Physical touch is a basic human need.  I want to create pieces that tie together the comfort of holding a warm mug with the comfort of holding another person’s hand,” she says.

Early stages of a ceramic, unfinished clay sculpture of a hand-mug created by Cecilia Morris.  She created this at home as WKU campus was shut-down due to Covid-19.


Wax sculpture following the hand-mug theme, created by Cecilia Morris

Why WKU?

Cecilia’s love for WKU has been nurtured over the past four years and has greatly increased for many reasons.  She says, “It’s the beautiful campus, with more trees and green space than concrete, but it’s mostly the faculty.  I’ve experienced nothing but creative support and inspiration.  They foster our creativity, shepherd us, and encourage us to stay motivated while we explore all facets of the mediums about which we are passionate.  Instead of trying to shape you into what they want, they take you for what you are, foster that, and guide you to success!”

Cecilia cannot imagine attending any other university.  She is active in countless clubs, groups, sports teams, and more, and she definitely recommends WKU as it has been one of the most wonderful experiences in her life.

For more information about Dr. Mike Nichols and the fresco painting technique, click here.