BYU student’s switch of majors leads to new opportunities

Liddicoat, at her first art exhibit in the Philippines during her senior year of high school, discovered her passion for painting. The exhibit marked the beginning of her artistic journey. (Image courtesy of Savannah Liddicoat)

BYU Fine Arts student Savannah Liddicoat shared how taking risks and switching majors helped her find her passion for art.

Approximately 80% of students change their major at least once in college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

For Liddicoat, now a BYU senior, the journey of figuring out her college major was a long road. 

Growing up as a self-described tomboy, Liddicoat initially felt detached from her artistic inclinations. However, at the age of 12, encouraged by her mother, she found a creative spark in sewing and crafting banners for a Personal Progress project for her church. 

During her adolescence spent across Northern California, Australia and the Philippines, she took classes in textiles and painting but never imagined pursuing it beyond a hobby.

“Then I went to college and did not think I would be doing anything with art whatsoever,” she said.

Liddicoat spent her freshman year at BYU and then went on an 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City.

There her love of art flourished, and she received opportunities to meet different artists like Walter Rain, a well-known religious artist whose original pieces inspired by the Book of Mormon are displayed in the Manhattan New York temple.

When Liddicoat returned from her mission, she said she felt the need to change her major.

“Every single time I was at church or the temple, I just felt this nagging feeling that I needed to go into art,” she said. “I had no idea what to do with that feeling because nobody in my family is an artist. I had zero direction. I was just, like, ‘Holy cow. Do I have to change my whole major?’”

It wasn’t until Winter 2021 that Liddicoat decided to switch her major to fine art. Even then, she described feeling very inadequate in all of her classes once she switched.

“Nobody in my family is even artistic or musically gifted — it’s very much sports and business and that’s kind of daunting because I didn’t have anyone to talk to,” she said.

‘They Do Not Need Your Judgment” acrylic ink, compressed charcoal and colored pencil on BFK paper, 29.75 x 22 inches. (Savannah Liddicoat)

Liddicoat reached out to her current employer through an Instagram direct message. This connection led her to work for him, which provided valuable insights into the life of an artist and curator.

In her position, she works on projects, paints and is featured in exhibitions.

“There Appeared An Angel, Strengthening Him” – Lithographic Print 11 x 15 inches. This depiction comes from Luke 22:43. “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” (Savannah Liddicoat)

Her boss, J. Kirk Richards, a contemporary artist and studio owner of JKR Gallery in Provo, said Liddicoat does a great job of putting together interesting and engaging art shows. She brings a welcoming and enthusiastic energy to the gallery.

Liddicoat finds inspiration for her art in her religious faith and personal interests.

“Issues that really frustrate me or that I’m passionate about are what drive me to make different pieces,” she said.

Her piece titled “They Do Not Need Your Judgement” was inspired by her experience as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Liddicoat said she has often seen individuals making condescending judgments of people who live differently than them.

“It really bothered me to see self-proclaimed ‘holy men’ looking down upon the actions of those they perceive as ‘common,’ assuming their own superiority,” she said. “When in reality it is those they look down upon … who often display greater humility and kindness, qualities I associate with Christlike behavior.”

Liddicoat also finds inspiration from social pursuits other young adults might be able to relate to.

“Ode to the Noncommittal Male” – Lithographic Print 11 x 15 inches. Another piece of Liddicoat’s explores her frustration with dating in Provo and issues of commitment. (Savannah Liddicoat)

“Her artwork combines a modern sensibility with deeply personal themes of love, romance, breakups and the struggle to connect with a partner,” Richards commented.

In the future, Liddicoat hopes to work as a curator for a gallery or museum as well as to continue her own artistic pursuits.

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