Black women highlighted in ‘Breaking Barriers’

Chardonae Odegard’s painting awarded place in LandEscapes journal; inspired by Black Student Union meeting addressing mental health



Chardonae Odegard plans on taking her art to a new level with Art Therapy when she graduates.


Chardonae Odegard, a junior fine arts major, received recognition for her painting, “Breaking Barriers,” in the 2020 edition of LandEscapes and continues to make inspiring art about her life experiences.

Odegard started painting at 16 years old when she attended the Tacoma School of the Arts with the intention of working on her drawings of people and places. She loved to draw cartoons. However, she would be required to paint as part of her courses.

“I was too scared of painting at first because I was afraid of messing up,” Odegard said. “I learned by watching how other people painted. My painting teacher assumed that everyone already knew how to paint, and I was too shy to admit I didn’t. I watched other people paint and picked up on their techniques.”

Her skill in painting has not gone unnoticed as her painting, “Breaking Barriers,” was awarded a place in a WSU Literary Arts Journal, LandEscapes. Her painting highlights the need for Black women to be able to talk through their emotions.

She attended a WSU Black Student Union meeting where members discussed mental health and unlearning bad habits and thought patterns.

“One of them was how Black men have grown to learn that they can’t show emotions or be emotional,” Odegard said. “I think this goes for Black women too. They are raised to be strong and think that emotions make them weak and that’s not true. Everyone shared their story and I did too. I felt like I shared too much, but it was helpful.”

She later saw a post on Instagram of people with talking bubbles. The person talking about their life had a tangled bubble, and the person giving advice was receiving and detangling the thoughts. This led to the creation of Odegard’s finished painting.

Odegard is pursuing her passion and studying fine arts and sociology. She would like to take these skills and apply them to a job in art therapy. Painting is not the only way she would love to help people express themselves.

“I want to use painting, but I also want to do sculpture,” Odegard said. “I took a 3D art class and the teacher had us use recycled stuff to make 3D art, and I thought that was cool.”

One of her projects was to create face masks out of cardboard, newspaper, piper cleaners and paint. She hopes to include 3D art, painting and drawing, Odegard said.

Her passion for art continues even through the pandemic. During the pandemic, she created a piece called “Finding Your Happy Place,” which conveyed her search for happiness in the middle of the pandemic.

She tries to make room for painting even when classes become hectic. She will sometimes do work ahead of time, so she has time to paint.