M.F.A. Theses 2002
2002 M.F.A. Degree Recipients:
Train Station - Day
Photography, as it is commonly encountered, is a messenger always arriving with unexpected violence and mystery, appearing like a dream but confirmed under the authoritative guise of a fact. This fact, rooted in the real, conversely becomes the basis of fantasy. The traces of specificity and possibility found within each photograph are ones that, when combined with other photographs, ignite a need to structure, connect and build meaning.
I am interested in photography's ability to generate a moment of belief and disbelief, of the expectation and the failure of the medium, of the promise and the promise unfulfilled. I am continually fascinated by, and suspicious of, every photograph's capacity to lead fractured, multiple lives, to reinvent itself, to simultaneously, uneasily, coexist as a suggestion, a document, and a fiction.
The industrial object is one interest that influences my current work. Particularly the types that have been abandoned and left to deteriorate yet now as discards have little outward value. This type of industrial object is the inspiration for the aesthetic I am working with. Since the original function or use of the object is lost, I am able to respond directly to the form as an aesthetic experience unto itself. It is this mystery of function and aesthetic that serves as the central influence, and is the impetus for the creation of my current ceramic objects.
I am primarily interested in art that functions as an experience, both for the artist that creates it and for the audience that views and interacts with it. To this end, my work is focused on acts of performance - their creation, enactment, documentation and public exhibition. In my performances, I engage in simple activities - often involving feats of physical endurance - that both alter my conscious state and that span considerable amounts of time. Using minimal means (usually my body in a common, unaltered environment), I make work that leaves the audience with a heightened sense of the connection between physical experience, altered states of mind, and visions of the supernatural.
I am interested in the relationship between physical and spiritual experiences. As a basis for my interests, I often reference religious or cultural phenomena that attempt to make connections with the divine. The endurance of great religious feats to attain enlightenment is evident in many cultures, for example: the long walks of Buddhist monks, dance rituals of some Native American tribes, and the periods of fasting in Christian and Muslim religions. The feats of endurance engage the participants in a bond with their faith.
Although I perform acts of physical endurance, I do not attempt to replicate or mimic the acts sacred to specific belief systems, but, instead, make correlations to the activities they employ. Similarities between these activities include sensations of nausea, disorientation, and pain - often followed by sensations of clarity and pleasure. In these activities, hallucinatory experiences are often characteristic, as well as visions of the supernatural.
These acts are not intended for a live audience; instead, I document the activity through photograph, video, and physical remnants. Through these mediums, I create installations that operate on two levels. On one level, the audience experiences the work directly, through such means as tactile sensations, olfactory engagement, sound, and visual stimulation. On another level, I am interested in creating work that resonates in the audience's mind by creating a disorienting experience. My intentions are to alter a viewer's perception of his/her environment, of time, and of his/her own physical being.
Installation art relies on a field of relations within a spatial environment to express meaning, rather than conventional methods of object and observer. The space for viewing installation opens up an experience of temporality and the art is dependent on the role played by space and time.
At a basic level the viewer is made aware that an installation is not a permanent feature of the architecture or landscape, but an ephemeral transposition within or upon it. I have taken space and time and have combined these elements with evocative materials and images into a dreamlike narrative, where object and space are fused into a three-dimensional walk-in theater.
Using everyday materials, I create sculptural installations that have a transforming effect on the viewer. I focus on creating a corporeal experience and a call to meditation or reflection by engaging the multiple senses of sight, smell and hearing. The moment the viewer crosses the threshold, an interaction of the smells, sounds, temperature, and movement and the isolation of these elements in a site-specific space triggers the awareness of his/her physical self and bodily relationship to the piece. To work in this vein is to work in relation to a particular place, with all of the complexities that it creates. The process of installation allows a viewer to become sensitive and aware of his/her surroundings heightening one's awareness and creating a memorable aesthetic experience.
Mortality and immortality are explored in this work through printmaking processes emulating these ideas. The production of these images and ghost images visualizes the absence of the human body. The breakdown of clear-cut distinctions between the image and ghost image offers a broad range of interpretations of the processes of life and death. Clarity and obscurity, original and copy, and similarity and differences are distinctions not easily resolved when comparing these images.
Through the presentation, the viewer becomes aware of the hierarchy of the image and ghost image but the obscurity of the distinction between the two, offer up the two as equal.
These images are part of an ongoing series intended to question the relative significance of the tasks and rituals that consume daily life. Presented in a non-literal fashion, these invented scenarios attempt to reflect the absurdity or dysfunction that exists within the context of day-to-day functions. My initial function is directed towards the seemingly unimpactful things that are often overlooked but make up a large part of personal and social life. These exercises include such things as food choices, holiday traditions, and basic household chores. However, by understanding the collective results of these seemingly insignificant, individual actions, a much larger and engrossing picture starts to reveal itself resulting in large scale belief systems and institutions. My goal with these visual constructions is to place the viewer in a position that brings about a general questioning of what exactly is occurring and why such a potentially unnecessary ritual would be continued.
Fields I Used to Roam
Fields I Used to Roam is a culmination of several other projects and research that I have been engaged with as a graduate student. This project is a collection of prints that informs the audience about a rural semi-pro baseball league that ran continuously from 1955 to 1975 in southern Indiana near Lincoln State Park. There is no body of knowledge or compilation of statistics that has been formally put together concerning this league. My goal was to produce a visual communication experience that would convey an overview of the history of the league and celebrate the teams and towns involved in the Lincolnland League. I have tried to give a voice to this now extinct league, organize it, and provide a language of image and text for the viewer to experience the Lincolnland League. It has been exciting and fulfilling doing this type of work which has a possibility of touching many by drawing on similar experiences that others may have shared but not recorded. This is a project where I have a very personal connection with the story. This is not only a family story but it is also a broader story about loss and a shared human experience that has changed and will never be the same - change not only in sports and recreation but lifestyles, culture and the rural landscape as well.
Graphic Design as a Vehicle for Social Renovation: A Program to Promote the Reinforcement of Self-Esteem in Preadolescent Girls
The Program to Promote the Reinforcement of Self-Esteem in Preadolescent Girls, which is universal in context, targets a sector of the Panamanian public as the primary audience and utilizes different visual avenues to fulfill its purposes. Interdisciplinary collaboration is the essence of this prototyped program.