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Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2017

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts

Author's Program

Art

Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

Restricted/Unrestricted

Unrestricted

Abstract

Have you ever felt a desire to get lost on a journey much larger than yourself or experience the thrill of the unknown? Think about a time you intentionally swam further out in a lake or the sea than you have before, or drove down a road without knowing where it would take you, or wandered around a new city without a map. Think about how you made the decision to push those boundaries. Remember how taking that risk in pursuit of an unknown made you feel, because it is that thrill that drives my artistic practice. Through my thesis journey, I explore alchemical transmutations, encyclopedias as universal knowledge, and the kiln firing process. Alchemical transmutations reference the literal definition of alchemy, which is a transmutation from one thing to another. Encyclopedias act as a metaphor for universal knowledge, as they are not specific to a subject or discipline. The kiln firing process involves “collaborating with chance” and allowing the kiln her own artistic license in my artwork. These elements combine to create an alchemical transmutation from a written language of encyclopedias to a visual language of natural processes and landscapes, and a transmutation from paper to ceramic and glass. In this essay, I describe a personal journey of exploration, experimentation, and how my art practice correlates to my way of life.

Mentor/Primary Advisor

Michael Byron

Artist's Statement

“Nor should we underestimate the sense of satisfaction born of the enter- prise, the excitement of the adventure, of the seeking and the finding.” – Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy

The first thing I notice is the smell. The slightly stale smell of damp paper that permeates my nose and focuses my attention. The paper clay is thick and seeps into the pages of each text immediately on contact. It covers my fingers like glue and seals one page to another. The sound of tearing paper fills my ears and the repetitive motions and patterns send me into a trance, unaware of time and surroundings. Soon enough, the text has been trans- formed into something unrecognizable – a fractal made of folded pages with dark grey paper clay bulging from its seams. In this intermediary form, the object is submerged in the paper clay, saturating the paper and weighing it down into an abyss. After the object surfaces for air, it is left to dry and harden, allowing fissures to form within its landscape made of ridges, valleys and mountains. Glaze covers the landscape like rain from a heavy storm, creating dried up rivers and ponds among the landscape’s features. The landscape is placed on a bed of sand to prepare for the furnace full of red heat and the mysterious, alchemical transmutation process begins. I anxiously wait three days for the full physical change to be revealed. Each time I pull open the kiln door, I peer into a new world full of beautiful remnants to feast my eyes upon, yearning to be observed and understood.

My works are remnants of an alchemical transmutation, changing a written language of universal knowledge to a visual language of natural processes and landscapes. The bones of each encyclopedia are revealed through its own dematerialization – paper turning to ceramic and glass. Each transmutation creates a tension between fragility and strength, protecting and preserving the written language of the world and bringing it back to its natural origin.

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