M.F.A. Theses 2003

2003 M.F.A. Degree Recipients:

David Batzer | Suzanne Mauro | Crispin Prebys | Phillip Shore

David Batzer (M.F.A., photography, 2003)

35 Words

"God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the seas and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'"     -Genesis 1:28

According to the Bible, these are the first words God spoke to human beings.  This quote describes creation as unfinished.  The implications of this statement are quite clear.  This is a mandate, a divine roadmap to a promised land, and ideal world.

This mandate rationalizes a way of living that is based on conquering and controlling the Earth and has been embraced by our society as the destiny of the human race.  The belief implied in this mandate is that we are not meant to be subject to the ecological laws and physical limits of the universe.

As a society we have a choice:

We can choose to continue to follow this mandate.  We can continue to view the world as a thing to be conquered and controlled.  We can continue to cling to the myth that we are a superior form of life- either as the pinnacle of evolution or as the final product and purpose of creation.

Or we can choose to abandon our anthropocentrism and realize we are a part of the world, not the purpose of it.  As a member of the living world we help provide life for other species, which in turn, provide life for others, and so on.  This web of life ensures that every living thing on the planet is supported by every other living thing.  That is not to say that each form of life is absolutely essential.  If you remove one strand, a web still exists.  If you remove too many strands, however, the web will fail.

We can choose to remove strand after strand until the web fails, or we can choose to embrace the dynamic harmony of a living world.

My work is a consideration of the context of this choice.  I have branded the words of Genesis 1:28 onto large-format landscape images.  These images are one of a kind, original 4"x5" color transparencies.  I hope to expose the destructiveness of this mandate and make its consequences visually evident.  By destroying the ability of these images to be reproduced, I also deny their commodification as beautiful landscape images to be bought, sold, and possessed.

Flickr subscription set-David Batzer works


David Batzer | Suzanne Mauro | Crispin Prebys | Phillip Shore

Suzanne Mauro (M.F.A., ceramics, 2003)

Consumed by the Daily

Like an infection, my personal life infects the art I now make.  Over the past three years I have struggled to engulf myself in a medium that I have felt so alienated from.  As an outsider with no feel for the utilitarian, I deviated from the norm, trying to find my way in ceramic sculpture.  With the birth of my daughter, my experience became even more complicated.  I started working with porcelain at this time, exploring new things such as fragility and transformation.  These things mimicked the new experiences in my life.  With the thinness and translucency of porcelain, I am able to reference skin and life and the body.  This new way of working provides me with a way to deal with the consuming tasks of the everyday.

The ritual of marriage is an overwhelming display; void today of the past sense of spirituality, a bride's one day of glorification as a lifetime of chores grimly buries her future.  The motif of the rose, cheerful and sweet, but shrouded with loss.  A rose will lose its bloom one day, as I seem to have lost my youth.  Each petal on each flower becomes a symbol for each chore, each dinner to be cooked, and each dish to be washed.

The forms are made, petal by petal, mimicking the repetitive, mundane of the everyday.  By combining the roses with these wormlike forms, I am hoping to visually depict the contrast between the sweetness of a wedding ceremony with the reality of the everyday; overwhelming feelings of obsession and guilt, the contrast between the person you are, and the person you want to be.  Disgusting or beautiful, it is unclear beneath such a writhing surface.

The forms come together into one large cake form, a form that mimics the bride herself, sitting atop a fabulous skirt of blood red velvet.  She is kept separate from the viewer's touch and becomes the ultimate contradiction of beauty and disgust.  She is both monstrous yet unattainable: white, virginal and pure.  She is an overwhelming display, consuming the viewer as I have found myself consumed by the daily.

Flickr subscription set-Suzanne Mauro Works

David Batzer | Suzanne Mauro | Crispin Prebys | Phillip Shore

Crispin Prebys (M.F.A., graphic design, 2003)

Understanding: An Act

Political messages today are so carefully crafted that simple ideas can be seen as powerful statements and effect popularity.  President George W. Bush's "you are either with us or you are with the terrorists" rhetoric is an example of this king of oversimplification of highly complex problems.  Legislation is carefully presented to the public as the right thing to do for a particular issue, but that same legislation can be embedded with elements that may in fact be contrary to the popular good.  Such is the case with the USA PATRIOT Act.  Taking advantage of and utilizing the up-swell of patriotism in the country post 9-11, the Bush Administration pushed the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act" through Congress - better known by its well-crafted acronym USA PATRIOT Act.

The USA PATRIOT Act was hastily passed without sufficient debate following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington, DC, and the crash of hijacked United Airlines flight 93 in Pennsylvania.  It was presented as a new set of tools to help protect the country against further violence.  In the rush to show that the government was in control and working to secure the nation, Congressmen and -women were placed in a position of potential political suicide where they could not vote against the Act.  USA PATRIOT Act passed and was signed into law despite the fact that few in Congress had read every part of the Act's language, and even fewer had read it at all.  In fact, the Act was not new legislation at all but a collection of wishes that law enforcement had been quietly requesting for years but were never granted due to their direct affect on our constitutional rights and civil liberties.  Through covert invasion of our privacy and civil liberties, the USA PATRIOT Act essentially has created a state of affairs in this country where everyone is guilty until proven innocent.  Making matters worse, the Administration has developed a climate where speaking out against the USA PATRIOT Act and American policy is viewed as unpatriotic.

My project, Understanding: An Act, is intended to question the words and actions of Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Bush Administration to inform and teach viewers about inequities within the USA PATRIOT Act and its potential affect on our country.

Flickr subscription set-Crispin Prebys Works

David Batzer | Suzanne Mauro | Crispin Prebys | Phillip Shore

Phillip Shore (M.F.A., sculpture, 2003)


My sculpture is an exploration of natural and architectural forms associated with the sacred.  Passage becomes an important aspect in the work as it also plays an integral role in the experience of the sacred.  All cultures and religions, both past and present, have rituals of passage in place.  These rituals help create and reinforce key aspects of the experience such as transformation, meditation and reverence.  In this installation I seek to interpret and recreate the experience one feels when approaching or encountering the sacred.  The elements of ritual, mystery and the mark of the hand capture and transport the viewer into the realm of the sacred.  Grove uses procession and a timeless collective memory to heighten the senses and create an awareness of our surroundings.

Flickr subscription set-Phillip Shore works

David Batzer | Suzanne Mauro | Crispin Prebys | Phillip Shore