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Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author Department/Program

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Art

Degree Type

Thesis

Abstract

This thesis examines the aesthetics of so-called negative feelings and sites of subjective discomfort. I am interested in the possibilities for the medium of photography to respond to bodily conditions of anxiety, depression, or traumatic stress through images, which represent or re-present, the experience of emotions and feelings. I use the camera and the photograph, in addition to text, sound, video, and interactive installation to give language to those things for which I do not have words.

Living with the camera and working in my domestic space allows me to confront the pain of memory. By working within the traditions of large format photography, I am required to sit with a space for an extended period of time. I reference the material, color, and light of pre-trauma nostalgia as they imbue my post-trauma experience. I sew my camera to the wall, and utilize bokeh and shallow depth of field to emulate experiences like crying or non-verbal states of being.

I am interested in conversations about mental health as they occur within academic institutions as well as on social media. I believe that memoir(s) of contemporary mental health play a critical role in understanding our collective cultural body. Theory from disciplines outside of the arts – Anthropology, Psychology, Psychiatry, and Trauma Studies – allow me to think about the medical body, the abused body, the body that has endured childhood sexual abuse, rape, and other forms of bodily trauma. I am obligated to think about the credibility of memory, as scientific studies on the physiology of the traumatized brain do not support the reality of the fragmented experience.

My practice focuses on developing safe spaces to share visceral experiences and foster consent with the viewer as they look at, listen to, and read the history of my body.

Language

English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Gina Grafos

Committee Member

Jessica Baran

Artist's Statement

Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K77942WH