Artists showing their work in the Scott Gallery at Carroll Community College in Phantom Narrative include: Jeremy Hush, Philadelphia, Pa.; Paul Barton, Schnecksville, Pa.; Jessi Hardesty, Baltimore, Dylan Garrett Smith, Bethlehem, Pa.; and Christine Mercer-Vernon, York, Pa.
Artists showing their work in the Scott Gallery at Carroll Community College in Phantom Narrative include: Jeremy Hush, Philadelphia, Pa.; Paul Barton, Schnecksville, Pa.; Jessi Hardesty, Baltimore, Dylan Garrett Smith, Bethlehem, Pa.; and Christine Mercer-Vernon, York, Pa. (Courtesy photo)

Christine Mercer-Vernon is a regional artist participating in the current show at Carroll Community College ( titled Phantom Narrative.

The show is being held at the Scott Gallery through Nov. 2 and was organized by Art Department Chair Jessi Hardesty, who brings the best to Carroll in art exhibits. This is an exhibition of a group of artists that explore the world through story telling in visual art. Part of the show includes horror movies in a mini theater set up in the gallery.


Said Hardesty: “I selected each artist based on their ability to capture those fleeting, surreal moments in their work. Skulls are another theme for the show because they act as a reminder of mortality and are emblematic of the fleeting nature of existence.”

Mercer-Vernon first got interested in art when she was a child. She was not a very social child and drew and colored for as long as she can remember.

“When I attended Sullivan County High School in northern Pennsylvania north of Williamsport Mercer-Vernon, I had a fabulous art teacher named Mrs. Cole,” Mercer-Vernon said. “She recognized my art ability and constantly pushed me to improve my artistic skills.”

Cole introduced Mercer-Vernon to different mediums including water color and oil paints.

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Mercer-Vernon won the school’s spring art festival her senior year. The art students put together a body of their work for the year in an exhibit. Getting acclaim for her art work gave her the encouragement she needed to pursue art.

After graduation from high school, Mercer-Vernon attended the Bradley Academy for Visual Arts in York, where she studied graphic design. The curriculum included drawing, composition and color theory, which were her favorite classes. At that time, graphic design encompassed many aspects of the creative field including spot illustration, 2-D and 3-D design as well as traditional graphic design.

She graduated in 1993 and got a job as a textbook illustrator for Bi-Comp. While working there, Mercer-Vernon created artwork for elementary, high school and medical books.

“It was a pretty cool job and I saw a lot of things I don’t ever want to see again. I created all of my illustration on the computer,” she explained. Mercer-Vernon also worked for several other companies over the course of 13 years she spent there.

When Mercer-Vernon left she did freelance work. She continued to do textbook illustration but also did her own artwork on the side. Her first body of work was a tightly detailed body of florals, that today seems out of place for her style.

But, over time, a narrative aspect started to evolve in that work. A narrative is a body of work that tells a story.

Then, she decided to transition to oils and to develop a new body of work exploring narrative concepts using distorted portraits and the female body and trees with female characteristics. It was well received by her local art community. Mercer-Vernon painted from a very personal perspective and she related to the female collector.

When her daughter was born, Mercer-Vernon stopped painting from such a personal perspective.

“It was too hard,” she explained. “I think it is because when you have a child you become more sensitive to things around you.”

She stopped painting for 7 years. Mercer-Vernon found it difficult to find something to paint and it left her feeling as if she did not know what to do. She focused on her daughter instead of her art. Today, she goes to her daughter’s elementary school to show them her art work, which today is narratives of skulls and bones.


Mercer-Vernon set up a drawing station instead of painting and worked on her craft. One day, while searching eBay for old wooden cigar boxes she stumbled on a badger skull. She purchased it on a whim. Mercer-Vernon had not ever drawn skulls before. Within a few months she had expanded her skull collection to a dozen.

As time permitted, she drew them and built up a collection of skull drawings.

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“I found that drawing them was much different from drawing other things,” she said.

She decided to do research and studied them. Mercer-Vernon read osteology articles. She also purchased skull reference books. Mercer-Vernon spent a lot of time studying their structure.

In the process, she found that you can learn a lot about the life of the animal by studying its bones. “I found that you could learn the sex, their diet, where they lived, how old they were, how they died and any sometimes, ailments they might have,” Mercer-Vernon explained.

“This struck me on a very deep level. If bones could tell stories, why couldn’t I tell stories with bones,” she said.

“People see the skulls and think my work is going to be dark but the entire underlying theme is that death is the greatest motivator for life. I use death to tell stories because losing someone or something instantly causes us to think about all the things we have not done with our lives,” Mercer-Vernon said. “Experiencing a loss is one of the greatest motivators to examine our lives. It causes us to live life fuller and to go out and do things we have not done.

“I like the unexpected connections I make with people through my art. We all experience so many of the same things and my narratives relate to so many people. We all walk a different path and people find their own stories in my work.”

Mercer-Vernon has four fine art pieces on view this month in the Phantom Narrative.

Mercer-Vernon can be contacted through her website at