The 27 Club

The 27 Club refers to a group of famous musicians who lived a very short life, ending at age 27. Ellen Yates, senior business major became very interested in the subject after her Humanity and the Imagination class discussed the Pioneers of American Music.


The class studied musical trends, decades and the history of famous bands before taking a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.


“I got really inspired by Herb Ritts Exhibit,” Yates said.


Yates read the quote that she observed at the exhibit, “For me a portrait is something from which you feel the person, their inner quality and what makes them who they are.”


Yates’ presentation combined art with the knowledge she gained from her class. She said she loves art, but has never drawn a portrait before.


Yates found portraits online of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Brian Jones. She then edited those photos to turn them to negatives and drew the outline of that negative. She finished with watercolor to give them the final look that was shown on her poster.


Her goal was to combine the quote with the conspiracy of the 27 club of those musicians who passed away and see if she could feel that when drawing them.


“I did find when working so closely, like looking so closely to the details of their faces, you start to feel kind of a connection even if it’s over paper,” Yates said. “I read about them and about their lives and I learned a lot about why they did what they did.”


Her project allowed her to dig deeper into these musicians to find out they were human beings like everyone else.


“They’re human beings with a lot of severe issues and pain and they all just really wanted to be accepted by their families,” Yates said. “They felt like outcasts.”


After she completed the four portraits, she described her new understanding for the Herb Ritts Exhibit.

“I definitely got what Herb talks about when he does his portraits and when he takes his photos and stuff,” Yates said. “When you work this closely you start to feel that connection.”