Growing up in Bradenton, Fla., Lindsey Clark-Ryan had a front-row seat for a humorous look at a portion of American culture.
Bradenton is where Hernando de Soto is said to have first set foot on American soil, becoming the first European to explore Florida and the southeastern United States. Consequently, just about every place you look in Bradenton, you see something named for de Soto.
“They have a lot of things named for him and an annual celebration, so there is some controversy, especially with regards to the Native American population,” said Clark-Ryan, who will graduate today with a double major in printmaking/drawing in the School of Art and in English in Arts & Sciences.
So as one of her final art projects as an undergraduate, Clark-Ryan made a book about the place she grew up.
“I am parodying old Colonial etchings and books about the New World,” she said as she worked toward completion, “but I’m also just trying to show what a weird place Florida is.”
And she recently received an award from the Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Studio for the Illustrated Book, given annually to a student for excellence in book design.
But that was just one of many awards and accolades collected by Clark-Ryan, who also anchored the jump events for the women’s track and field team.
Funny thing is, when she first came to the University, neither printmaking nor track factored much in her decision.
“At all the other schools I visited, I proposed the things I wanted to do, and they only explained how it might not work out,” she said. “Here, everyone wanted to help me figure out a way to do this — which, turns out, wasn’t that hard at all. They were more supportive rather than figuring out how I was going to mess up their system.
“I didn’t think it was a problem, going for a double major in two different schools. And I didn’t even tell them the astronaut part, which was probably good.”
Ah, the astronaut part. Ever since she was in third grade, Clark-Ryan aspired to be an astronaut — in addition to studying both art and English.
|School of Art
College of Arts & Sciences
“Until the end of my senior year (of high school), I seriously, completely, not even kidding, wanted to be an astronaut,” she said. “I was going to do all three because I’m insane.
“But I was miserable, so I decided to pare down. I was looking at places that would let me be insane, let me do lots of things. That’s the main thing that brought me here.”
And to the School of Art in particular, where she quickly realized that being an illustrator didn’t particularly appeal to her.
“My art teacher in high school was under the impression that people should study art to become commercial artists — so I came in with illustration in my head, then realized that wasn’t for me,” she said. “I hadn’t done a lot of printmaking before I came here; it’s not as common in high school. I mean, we all have the linoleum cuts that destroyed our hands — I was always cutting myself, and they’d take the tools away from me.
“There is a different printmaking philosophy here than at most schools: They encourage experimentation with a lot of mixed media. … There’s a lot of freedom.”
That was when she wasn’t participating in track meets. She was the 2003 University Athletic Association triple jump champion, was second-team all-UAA in the outdoor triple jump and long jump in 2003, and was the 2002 outdoor UAA triple jump champion and 2002 UAA indoor and outdoor long jump runner-up.
Oh, and she was a five-time NCAA provisional qualifier.
But that seems to go with the territory. The women’s track and field team has not been defeated in the past 10 conference meets (five indoor and five outdoor), a feat that has never before been accomplished in the UAA.
This year, Clark-Ryan took first in the outdoor triple jump and second in the indoor triple jump, continuing a trend that has seen the women not just win, but sweep, the triple jump six times and the long jump three times. A WUSTL woman has won the long jump or triple jump in all eight conference meets over the past four years.
“With track and other sports, you kind of become more efficient in what you do,” Clark-Ryan said. “It helps you focus on things, it helps keep you balanced.”