Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

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

Fandom is a feature of American popular culture that takes elements from specific genres, and reworks them into an individual to formulate an identity. Clothing, music style, meeting places, and even drink choices can be the defining factors for determining which particular group one might associate with. Focusing on groups within fandom culture, I work to disprove the phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover” by discussing embedded stereotypes common to dedicated fans. As I am not elevating or undermining these groups, I describe their attributes in a non-discriminatory way, and relate them to my own work.

I have selected Juggalos, Parrotheads, Spring Breakers, and contemporary youth artists as representatives of present-day fandom culture, as each of these groups display absurd personalities and extreme patronage. By breaking down their interests and identities, I find similarities between the groups, and present them in a simplified, humorous object. Nihilism, intoxication, and sexual activities are common threads that run through these groups, and are key elements that I pinpoint and address in my work.

Thesis Advisor: Jessica Baran

Title: Professor of Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Language

English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Committee Member

Jessica Baran

Committee Member

Jessica Baran

Committee Member

Zlatko Cosic

Artist's Statement

I am interested in the new relationships that form as a result of the manipulation of objects and imagery that have pre-determined meanings. I incorporate imagery of iconographic people, places, and things that are specific identities of American pop culture. However, I do not elevate or undermine these subjects, rather, I recontextualize and place them in the arena of the art realm. The transformation of what would typically be considered a low- brow culture to a high- brow art context allows for the tension between authentic versus fictitious.

I often utilize what could be considered B-List characters or situations, because in many cases they have a specific subculture of people, and have a natural humorous quality due to their extreme patronage. Each group dedicates themselves to a certain persona via costuming, and an adherence to product placements. I illustrate these elements in my work by incorporating what would be considered stereotypical objects or words that would serve to represent the groups, while simultaneously counterbalancing them with a faux presentation. An example would be from my collaborative exhibition entitled, I Have This Disease Where I Could Die At Any Moment. In this body of work, Straw-Ber- Rita cans are thrown amongst cliché beach scenarios, attempting to represent the aftermath of college students on spring break. The materials of tile and printed imagery allude to the fake nature of this situation, while the placement of each object attempts to simulate the experience within a gallery setting.

Each element of my work speaks to a specific crowd, particularly those who are familiar with or part of the references being made. However, it does not require an audience to be informed on said matter due to the humorous undertones. As I bring together sources of humor alongside direct references, a new audience is created. It is my goal to utilize image and object as a vehicle to bridge the gap between art and cultures that lie outside of its realm.

Permanent URL: target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.7936/K7Z31WJ8