Self-Development through Adversity and Art

October 7, 2015



As a non-traditional student, Dina Lincoln ’14 found her passion for artistic expression in the Art & Visual Culture at Lebanon Valley College. 

Though her background is in the nursing field, Lincoln found a way to combine her artistic and medical interests to thrive in the department, leading to her acceptance into the Master of Fine Arts Program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia. Highly selective, PAFA is the oldest art school in the United States. Lincoln is the first graduate of LVC’s department to enroll. 

Lincoln turned to studio art and enrolled at The Valley after a significant health issue six years ago left her unable to continue her studies to become a registered nurse.

“I did not want to just sit around during treatment and feel sorry for myself so I thought painting would be therapeutic,” outlines Lincoln.

LVC appealed to Lincoln’s desire for attentive professors and individual attention. Even before enrollment, Lincoln remembers their willingness to work with her and their enthusiasm for their field of studies. 

While a student, Lincoln learned a variety of skills to assist with the entire process of beginning and completing a painting. 

“Knowing when a piece is ready is a long and difficult process, and I learned to understand when I was finished with the painting and when I needed to continue working on a piece,” elaborates Lincoln. “I learned how to critique my own work as well as explain it to others and stand up for my own aesthetic.”

Lincoln found that her true passion was public art—artwork that is specifically designed and executed with the intention of staging it for the public so that it is accessible to all. Lincoln has already completed a variety of murals in locations such as local daycare centers and Philhaven Hospital. At LVC, she further developed her artistic niche in paintings of viruses and bacteria.

This unusual interest in microbiology was instilled in Lincoln as a child when her father worked as an epidemiologist for the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Lincoln says she was particularly inspired by the time spent living with her father in Chad, Central Africa, while he worked on eradicating smallpox.

Using the knowledge of the scientific process she gained at a young age, Lincoln creates each piece by studying the science behind the viruses and bacteria, and the inner workings of the body to gain the inspiration to paint an interpretation of what she has learned. 

“I hope to teach with my artwork,” she explains. “I want to open up the magical world that is under a microscope to people who may not ever see it, and introduce them to facts about science that stimulate and create an interest in the subject.”

During her senior year, Lincoln learned more about the process of analyzing and applying to schools for graduate programs. The production of a portfolio for her application was a difficult process for Lincoln, but the guidance of professors in the department helped her create a distinctive and successful submission. 

“Professor [Michael] Pittari, in particular, was very helpful in writing my artist statement, as well as reviewing my résumé,” recalls Lincoln. “I will never forget that during the school break he came into the school specifically to help me finalize everything for my application, which I appreciated very much. That is the individual attention that I knew I would get at Lebanon Valley College.”

At PAFA, Lincoln intends to continue to focus her art in virology and microbiology. She wants to use her in-depth studies of biological processes to show others the magnificence and vulnerability of the human body.

Confident in the skills she learned at LVC, Lincoln feels more than prepared to begin at the academy: “Lebanon Valley College worked with me through my disability and always kept my spirits up by treating me like anyone else. I was never treated as though I had a handicap and I appreciated that. LVC helped me begin a career in art and for that I will always be grateful.”

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