Date of Award

Summer 5-10-2023

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author's Department

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Art

Degree Type



Land | Lineage is an in-depth text of my thoughts and tha artistic choices I make within my work. In my thesis I use tha concept of Black Ecology to understand art rooted in tha relationship between race and geography. Black culture and city spaces in proximity to natural landscapes, or edgelands, reveal tha social and physical conditions of a place where these two worlds collide and form distinct characteristics of site, sound, and human interaction.

My research also focuses on tha theory of place-based works to reconceptualize the lost stories and complexities of city trauma and joy within my hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois. These works offer an alternative perspective of a place that is often misunderstood.



Program Chair

Lisa Bulawsky

Thesis Text Advisor

Cheryl Wassenaar

Thesis Text Advisor

Monika Weiss

Faculty Mentor

Meghan Kirkwood

Committee Member

Jen Colten

Committee Member

Amy Hauft

Committee Member

Geoff Ward

Artist's Statement

My ancestral lineage of African descent and hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois is an inspiration and reference in creating environments that reveal tha social and physical conditions of a place. EStL is a city with legacies of race-based massacres, segregation, and the rise and fall of industrialization. However, despite these atrocities, EStL has developed a vibrant community and culture. I funnell all of these characteristics into imaginative and familiar environments using installations, sculpture, sound, and photography. I record my own experiences that challenge tha status quo of urban environments to create art based on site, memory, play, and family.

I use materials, patterns, and colors that derive from cityscape and edgelands areas. Within cityscapes, asphalt and tha design of cities are particularly what I am looking at and for when working in these sites. I have a saying that “tha street holds memory”, this is true in tha stories told and lost in urban areas. I manipulate asphalt, a material used in cities for paved roads in order to create new structures. For example, in my sound installation Tha Block is Hot I created five 6-foot-tall pillars covered in asphalt. Within tha pillars loud sounds (that I collected for 3 years) of beauty shop chatter, screeching trains, police sirens, lawn mowers, rain, windchimes, my father laughing, and mother reading a poem. While I inserted a whisper telling everyone to “be safe”. I am storytelling through tha busyness of everyday sounds and mystical structures.

Another type of area I focus on is called edgelands, which is where urban cities are adjacent with rural landscapes. Documenting these areas are essential in challenging existing perceptions of areas that seem unused or abandoned. My Building Abandonment Place Marker Series are photographs documenting a hand-built fluorescent orange garden box representing growth, safety, and visibility. The place marker is photographed in various locations of edgelands- categorized by what was, what is, and what will be.

I admire the new creations and possibilities when showcasing all aspects of cityscape culture and its proximity to natural landscapes. Through this admiration, I build new structures, objects, and interactive installations to find moments of discovery.