Katie Tuttle premieres undergraduate senior art show

“Remnants” focuses on the act of blessing others through the difficulty of letting go.


Courtesy of Katie Tuttle

A corner wall of photographs depicts the art supplies stored in Tuttle’s home.

Brendan Peters, Staff Writer

This week in the Green Art Gallery, senior art major Katie Tuttle premiered her senior show, “Remnants,” which focuses on the what the artist terms as her “fundamental commitment toward freedom” from her years of collecting art supplies, books and jewelry. Tuttle noted that this is “not freedom through discarding or abandonment, but freedom through engagement and sharing.”


Tuttle’s experience as both the assistant dean of community life and as an undergraduate art student has allowed her to reflect on her life, career and passions in unique ways. Tuttle started working at Biola in 1987 as the assistant resident director and budget manager in the Department of Residence Life and has since served in a variety of capacities, including a 10-year stint as the adviser for the Student Government Association. Tuttle also served as the Director of Commuter Life for 15 years, during which she co-designed and launched the Collegium, a hub for commuter students. Tuttle has worked as the full-time assistant dean of community life since January 2022. 

Tuttle said she has felt welcomed by the student body and especially the art department, which has allowed her to pursue a passion that was once a large part of her life — reminiscent of middle school. This embrace from students and faculty was so profound to her that she said that she feels “like more of a college student now than the first time.” 

Tuttle has always embraced creativity, but the specific focus of pursuing an art degree is rooted in a deep influence from a former middle school art teacher, who encouraged her to take on advanced projects like stained glass and silver casting. Her mother exposed her to art at a young age as well, and the combination of these influences seeded in her a passion for art. The specific desire to return to school culminated in her desire to continue learning about art in community, a passion of Tuttle’s.


The inspiration for “Remnants” especially focuses on Tuttle’s desire to balance neatness with attachment. An element of her show features a shelf full of keepsakes and useful items like art supplies, which are open for any viewer to take for free if they desire. This might be a surprising element to find in an art show, but for Tuttle, this is a big part of her motivation to make art in the first place. 

“Most of my art either involves me growing, realizing something that I need to work through, or wanting to encourage or help someone else,” Tuttle said. In “Remnants,” these artistic focuses come together to form a picture of growth through loss of cherished collections.  The act of blessing people by meeting their unexpected needs is a recurring theme in Tuttle’s life which is reflected in many of her art pieces.

The centerpiece of “Remnants” is an altarpiece made of reclaimed, leafless tree branches woven and sculpted into an arch, and a wooden prayer kneeler as a place for viewers to reflect. On the kneeler is a handmade book of prayers. Also included is a corner wall of photographs depicting the art supplies that were stored in Tuttle’s home, and how much is left after the effort to declutter and embrace a level of neatness. “Remnants” is a visual journey through Tuttle’s own experience of dealing with attachment, and asking God to guide through that process, as Tuttle reflects on her experience that “God has challenged [her] to think differently in a number of ways.”


So why pursue an undergraduate degree on top of a full-time job, family, and other commitments? For Tuttle, it doesn’t involve a career change from her role in community life. “I love what I do,” she said. “I get to work with amazing directors, student leaders, and so I’m planning on sticking around.” Her art degree, however, is the culmination of a desire to encourage and inspire others: “When people say, ‘I’m not creative’, I say, ‘Everyone is creative in different ways. Helping people be able to try something new … and building community … is a very therapeutic process for me.”

Tuttle will graduate in May with a degree in studio arts. “Remnants” is available to view now in the Green Art Gallery.

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