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Date of Award

Spring 2017

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

Restricted Access Thesis

Abstract

I create paintings, objects, and constructions which together form fluid webs of memory and experience. In my work associations are made freely and, at times, recklessly. I apply clumsy metaphors from horror films, science fiction, and sports, to issues surrounding racism, kinship, and history. I often begin a painting by first making a 3-dimensional paper model. Symbolically coded scenes take place in shallow staged spaces. As I paint, observationally, from these built spaces, I am thinking about a reconstruction or collapsing of personal narrative, history, and myth. I am interested in the fantasies that distort biographical and historical narratives.

My studio work is grounded in two parallel narratives that at times intersect. The story of my father’s struggle with addiction and mental illness, and my racially charged upbringing in North St. Louis County. From these narratives, I meditate on all that I have inherited, the fear I will be just like my father and a patriarchal, racist, past and present. If one intention of my work is to exorcise personal and social demons, it is important to consider the objective of an exorcism. As seen in horror films, when an individual or house is host to a demonic possession the effort is to remove the entity. The demon is often not destroyed, and can move on and find a new host. The idea of warding off evil or harnessing internalized demons implies a constant effort, something that is maintained. I don’t believe that progress is linear, vices are not shed and forgotten, a society—or individual—doesn’t graduate from its ghosts, never to see them again. What’s visible in my art is the trace of a theater of exorcism.

Language

English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Thesis Advisor

Buzz Spector

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Micheal Byron

Committee Member

Andrea Stanislav

Artist's Statement

I create paintings, objects, and constructions which together form fluid webs of memory and experience. In my work associations are made freely and, at times, recklessly. I apply clumsy metaphors from horror films, science fiction, and sports, to issues surrounding racism, kinship, and history. I often begin a painting by first making a 3-dimensional paper model. Symbolically coded scenes take place in shallow staged spaces. As I paint, observationally, from these built spaces, I am thinking about a reconstruction or collapsing of personal narrative, history, and myth. I am interested in the fantasies that distort biographical and historical narratives.

My studio work is grounded in two parallel narratives that at times intersect. The story of my father’s struggle with addiction and mental illness, and my racially charged upbringing in North St. Louis County. From these narratives, I meditate on all that I have inherited, the fear I will be just like my father and a patriarchal, racist, past and present. If one intention of my work is to exorcise personal and social demons, it is important to consider the objective of an exorcism. As seen in horror films, when an individual or house is host to a demonic possession the effort is to remove the entity. The demon is often not destroyed, and can move on and find a new host. The idea of warding off evil or harnessing internalized demons implies a constant effort, something that is maintained. I don’t believe that progress is linear, vices are not shed and forgotten, a society—or individual—doesn’t graduate from its ghosts, never to see them again. What’s visible in my art is the trace of a theater of exorcism.

Available for download on Monday, September 19, 2044

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