Page 1

Kaitlyn Schwalber Portfolio


Deep Sea exemplifies micro and macro.

The Humpback Whale consumes the krill. The H2O molecules combine to destroy. The ocean is from where everything sprang, and if you broke down the human form into percentages, we are more similar to the ocean than the land. Yet we dare not venture, traveling to far distant planets before exploring the depths of our own. I am left only to dream of the possibilities of the ancient beasts. It’s down there, looming, enticing, evolving.

I am left only to dream of Medusozoa Steel – 2015 Academic 4’ –8’

The ocean is from where everything Linotype – 2015 Academic 18” –24”


Balaenoptera musculus

consumes the krill.

Wood, Acrylic, Paper – 2014 Academic 12’ –4’

The Architeuthis is down there, looming, enticing, evolving. Paper mache, acrylic, clay – 2014 Academic 10’ – 4’

The Great Wave

of water molecules combines to destroy.

Pastel – 2016 Academic 20” - 36”

Evolution It is the root of it all. Every cell in our body is proof of its existence, yet we will never fully understand. Each mutation adds to the next, creating a beautiful mosaic. The tiniest mistakes combining to create success. Symmetry through asymmetry happens naturally, yet it seems irrational to the human mind. There is no reason behind it, just chance and circumstance. The mutation takes hold, and proliferates across the being. Sometimes it is a cancer. Sometimes it is a light bulb; or more accurately the ability to consume light, which created a new dawn. Yet the future is uncertain, a variation that is negatively selected for now is one bacterial cell away from preference.

Fibonacci symmetry through asymmetry Steel – 2015 Academic 4 2’


made through chance and circumstance

Monotype on paper – 2016 Academic 4 2” – 3 2’

The creation of


The world is created with minutiae, but 1+1 does not equal 2, because when two things are added, they act as both separate entities and a new, combined whole. The power lies in the process, whether the process be through pressure or remembrance, both can amount to strength. There is necessity in the detail but the awe is found in the vast expanse. In these microcosms everything is encompassed, from creation, to continuation, to destruction.

Create with


Bleached cotton – 2017 Academic



Lithography monotypes on Polyester – 2016 Academic

Awe in the Vast


Monotype on Paper – 2016 Academic 18” – 24”

In these microcosms everything is Encompassed Acrylic on Canvas – 2017 Academic 48 2”, 8 2”

In these microcosms everything is Encompassed Soot on Mylar – 2016 Academic 30”- 48”

Substantial Memories Reality is a complex algorithm of every atom added, squared by their total. It is infinite and indefinable. I recompose the essence of my surroundings, large and small – a balance is struck between the visceral and analytical. This becomes my hazy reality, and the source of my misconception. Everything is interconnected to the point that nothing can exist on its own. We try created stark lines between dark and light, good and bad. This is a misconception. There can be no distinction, no line to be drawn. Everything exists in liminal spaces, ever flowing and moving, twisting in the wind while the day fades to night. Each processes is natural in its own right, but out of context it becomes a form beyond the known phenomena, forming into something constructed and rewritten through abstraction.

My Hazy reality Oil paint on Panel – 2017 Academic 6” – 6”

Reality is a Complex


Etching on Paper – 2017 Academic 4” – 6”


38°39’20.2”N 90°18’03.3”W

Oil on Canvas – 2017 Academic 24”– 44” Before I arrived at Wash U, the only thing I have ever really heard about St. Louis was about the Michael Brown shootings. The civil unrest was a daunting idea for my small town mind, and after Darren Wilson was acquitted, when I was told not to travel alone on the loop because there were going to be riots, I listened. As a senior living off campus, the Jason Stockley acquittal raised a similar fear. he demonstrators processed outside my window chanting “Out of your house and into the streets!” I stayed put. It was dark out, things could get violent, I didn’t want to be arrested, I had my friends birthday to go to, but mostly I was very privileged and it didn’t have to affect me.

The next day I walked the Loop, looking at all the broken windows and fallen glass. It looked like a war scene, and that’s how it was depicted yet again. This time I knew demonstrators though, and I found out that all of this damage was post the demonstration. I learned that the police were inflammatory to people, arresting a friend and removing his phone and wallet never to be seen again, simply for not moving and not saying anything. I learned that speaking out is infinitely more complex, convoluted, and unclear than I could have previously imagined. No interaction here is simple, not even between the sun and the shadow as the leaves blow above me, so I try to capture that reality.


38°38’52.4”N 90°18’18.3”W

Oil on Canvas – 2017 Academic 8’ – 4.5’ I applied to Wash U because its rankings for genetics were astronomical, and the brochures painted a warm, open, and accepting environment that differed from most highly competitive Ivy Leagues. A few months later I met Shayel on the steps of Brookings – a place that has been a symbol of success, intelligence, kindness, tenacity, and self discovery for me in those 4 years. So was Shayel. I knew he was one of those kids who was going to make a difference. I had recently run into him on campus. As usual he sat down and made time to talk to me, a skill I admire him for, and an embodiment of what the brochures allowed me to expect out of my peers. Our vibrant conversation circulated mostly around catching up on each other’s summers, talking about what’s next

in life and quick jokes at the expense of each other’s’ egos. What I wasn’t prepared for was less than a week later, our interactions – always vivacious and filled with laughter – were now confined only to my memory. I have cherished the support that Wash U has given me, but I have also felt the loneliness and fear that lurks beneath the surface. I suppose he was more well acquainted with the demons here than I. What pains me most is that the love I have for that boy wasn’t fully realized until after his passing. So, I came to the steps of Brookings, the place of our first meeting and his final memories, and I try to come to terms with the quietness of the shadows beneath my feet as a way to cope with the pain, turning these fleeting reflections into something beautiful and cathartic.

My Mother’s

Presence rewritten through abstraction

Lithography ink on silk, wool, essential oils – 2017 Academic 8” – 6”

Femininity One’s weaknesses can change to strengths in a moment. Thankfully nothing is perfect, as perfection would lead to instantaneous destruction. All communities are strengthened through diversity. The most important indicator of a community’s health is their genetic robustness– our differences are our strength. Then why does society pushes monotone expression? Why does society push women to display performed perfection when the reality is more exceptional? Why do we prod into the most intimate moments? Socially we should fit into boxes labeled with social norms and requirements, but the community can only survive under pressure if there are outliers. One base pair can be the basis of new life, and one voice can shift the tide.

Director’s Cut into intimate moments Charcoal on museum board – 2014 Academic 28” – 48”

Everyday reality is more exceptional Oil paint on canvas – 2015 Academic 36” – 48”

Strength allows us transparency, and truth Interfacing / Mylar, Magazine – 2014 Academic

Maya Lin in conversation Paperback book – 2016 Personal 18” – 24”

I was a co-Design Lead for the Maya Lin in Conversation publication. This publication was created to record and commemorate Maya Lin’s round table event at Washington University, hosted by Women in Architecture and Design. I was in charge of page lay out and flow, photo insertion and editing, and creating promotional material for the publication.

Revitalization through Incorporation “Apiary” is our answer to Disney’s Imagineers competition. We were asked to revitalize a “ghost town”. We chose to revitalize East St. Louis due to its high level of condemned buildings, poverty, and forced segregation. As the team leader, I was in charge of organizing my 3 teammates as well as gathering research about the location, contacting and interview ESTL residents, brainstorming and designing the “Comb” units, and creating the under drawings for the Apiary community setup and all perspective based images. Our concept was formed on the idea of vibrancy through self expression. Our research and interviews found that due to rampant poverty and crime as well as poor government oversight, the youth lack safe places to learn and create. We were told by citizens that a

major issue was the limited access to clean, safe, and affordable housing and business space due to the high level of crime. We knew it was important to incorporating existing businesses if this community was to be sustainable. We also wanted to create a disability inclusive space as most people experience some level of disability in their lifetime. Given these problems, we created a 2 step solution. The first is a space for youth and youth centered nonprofits to congregate, and the second being modular units that is affordable and could be used as the community needs. We believe this project has the ability to amplify the fortitude, skill, and passion the residents already exude.

The project was conceived by the Washington University Team and created for the 2017 Walt Disney Imagineering’s Imaginations Design Competition and is the sole property of Walt Disney Imagineering and all rights to use these ideas are exclusive to Walt Disney Imagineering. The competition is a way for students and recent graduates to showcase their talents and for Walt Disney Imagineering to identify new talent.

OUR LOCATION East St. Louis is filled with many beautiful historic brick buildings that are now boarded up and covered in graffiti. Although a metro runs right through the town, almost no one boards it. The parking lots were mostly empty or completely overgrown. We charted these buildings on the map to the right. Some of our photographs of them are shown below. The specific area we have highlighted is comprised almost entirely of abandoned buildings and empty fields. It is an ideal location for our youth-centered facility due to its proximity to a bus stop, a metro stop, and a school. This location will be easy for single mothers to drop their kids off or for teenagers to access on their own. As Apiary grows, it will help revitalize the surrounding area.


Aerial View Amphitheater / Court

The Combs Glass railing

Apiary transforms the landscape to physically draw people in. The walkways start on flat ground and gently slope towards the center amphitheater. This change in height creates a more interactive experience for its young audience. All paths are at handicap-accessible angles. The bright overlapping colors of the central overhang adds a layer of visual interactivity to the physical space. The colors will play differently during different times of the day and under different weather conditions, creating an ever-changing and engaging atmosphere. This is a space where children and teenagers fully immerse all their senses.

A local East St. Louis resident we talked to explained that the city already has a problem with overbuilding and so we designed a solution that allows the construction to grow as needed. The “Combs,� the hexagonal studio spaces, are prefabricated and easy to order and install, so that the space can expand naturally over time as it is revitalized. The Combs are reserved for youth focused not-for-profit organizations and local businesses serving the youth like daycares. Organizations we would invite could include LaunchCode, Creative Reaction Lab, and Girls At Work.

GROUND VIEW Graphic pieces featuring famous creatives born in East St. Louis will be on each of the hexagon modules. The spaces’ youth are also free to paint or decorate their exteriors with their organizations.

The pathways are built from salvaged bricks from the abandoned buildings on the site. Many of those structures are currently covered in beautiful graffiti artwork. These graffiti bricks will be incorporated with the plain ones to create a colorful pattern that nods to the history of the site and combines the old and the new.

Green walls and rooftop gardens bring life and sustainability to the space, as well as giving children a space to learn gardening skills. It also encourages healthy eating habits in an area known to be a food desert.

MODULAR STUDIOS The Combs are customizable and adaptable modular units. While the modularity allows for more economic accessibility, there would be options to change a standard unit to the owner’s needs. Units will have multiple options for the exterior walls. There would be a range from standard options like concrete, with basic doors and windows, to more elaborate options like full glass in a range of colors, or lively green walls that will grow with the community. We see this as something that over time could move beyond Apiary and be implemented throughout the city with both business and residential purposes. These studios would be prebuilt. As more organizations move into Apiary, they can be ordered to quickly ship and installed. As shown to the right, the modules can be combined to expand the businesses as they grow. The walls within are simple to detach and move so the space can serve multiple functions and be ever-evolving.

Business Model

Dance Studio

Tech Space

Residential Model

MOVEABLE WALLS The support structure allows for the editing of the floorplan. The interior walls would be modular with the inherent ability to extend, bend, and attach to one another. All of these aspects are designed to support the business and homeowners to customize their space in accordance to their needs and preference while also keeping them affordable.



Kae Schwalber Portfolio  
Kae Schwalber Portfolio