Date of Award
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
This essay explores the role of traditional and digital craftsmanship in my art practice as it relates to provocative imagery. I tackle the question of how my practice is influenced by my audience. My process and products both aim to agitate the ascetic individual. The argument opens on a poetic, personal note, before defining craft/craftsmanship and its social reception according to scholarship. I outline the intended audience for my work being those akin to my mother: christian, middle-aged, and leaning conservative. Because I employ devotional, virtuosic craftsmanship I argue my work is effective at provoking dialogue with these persons who would otherwise write off or refuse to engage with my artworks. I also explore the relationship of digital craftsmanship to tactile craft, both requiring significant devotion to technical skills. My work presented in the essay is set against an emerging cannon of contemporary queer and feminist artists using subversive content within their art to spark dialogues of gender, sex, spirituality, abjection, and more.
McDonnell, Mik and McDonnell, Mik Patrik, "Ritual and Digital Craftsmanship: Imprudent Practices" (2023). Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Papers. 111.
Art and Design Commons, Art Practice Commons, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Commons, Fine Arts Commons
I light my altar and fill the air with the scent of wood. Rocks, plastics, crystal glass, bits of steel and collected hair, rearranged to momentary satisfaction. Dripping wet, skin and wax. Baptized in the warm waters of the city. Purified, then spat out in uncanny clarity, falseness. In my fingers plastic cards turn in rhythmic motion, praying under the stars. A voice repeats herself over, and over…only love is allowed in.
There is a tradition in my family of excommunication, a ritual exclusion of one body from the body of Christ. Across Catholic and Protestant churches, spanning generations, many of us have chosen to define spirituality in our own terms. This performance of contrary belief has shaped my messy Midwestern worldview. So, sometimes I still go to that vantage point, I take communion, dressed in Christian drag.
I am staking out new holy spaces. I ornament wood, glass, plastics, and bits of steel in patterns and bodily forms meant to arouse. I invoke my lifelong obsession with sex and the nature of conception. Always something forbidden, enshrouded and exalted. I never stopped worshiping pleasure and that sacred fantasy.
The totems I make are fueled by positive obsession, something akin to addiction. My energy is rooted in the sensuality of my body. I’ve made altars out of etched mirrors, a sex toy out of a family heirloom, and a candle-lit lantern for the performance of prayer. My work connects me to my desire for dissident spirituality. The pleasure I take in making is heretical action. The material bodies I birth are indulgences in my plastic church.