Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2022

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



This thesis narrates the development of the multimedia art installation called Sanctuary. I unwrap the theoretical background of my practice, which is rooted in the theories of deconstruction by Jacques Derrida, and the rhizome theory by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. I approach my creative process as a grammatic of matter, space, and time, constructing meaning through an interplay of significants that connect to political, social, economic, and cultural implications. In the case of Sanctuary, I sought to create a path of empathy towards Venezuelan refugees in St. Louis, Missouri through the exploration of the concept of communion. This idea is expressed in the work through giving prominence to participation, community engagement, the idea of Baroque as historic process, and the Venezuelan dish known as arepa as a sign of identity. Sanctuary is a 3-channel video installation consisting in room painted in deep blue, where three wall sculptures are hung on three contiguous walls. Each piece contains a video monitor mounted vertically and framed by an assemblage that resembles Baroque architectural elements used in catholic churches from my home city, Caracas, Venezuela. Each of the 3 video channels shows a Venezuelan immigrant in Missouri making of arepas. The room is dimly lit, based on the ambience of Catholic churches. The three assemblages framing the monitors are made from wood covered with an emergency blanket—which is a mylar sheet currently associated to refugees—cutouts of the plastic wrapping of Venezuelan maize flour, gold leaf, and the wooden silhouettes of Baroque ornaments, which are also painted with white acrylic and marker.



Program Chair

Lisa Bulawsky

Thesis Text Advisor

Monika Weiss

Faculty Mentor

Patricia Olynyk

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Denise Ward-Brown

Committee Member

Leslie Markle

Artist's Statement

Use as few elements as possible

Present clearly defined actions and materials to enhance real or suggested performativity

Proximity—literal, figurative—increases tension, and engagement

Materials are a discourse. The body is a material

Vulnerability is a strength

Address Venezuela’s historical circumstances by deconstructing the social, politic, and economic fabrics

Subvert the burden of Catholicism’s culture of self-sacrifice and martyrdom

Reflect on the awareness of our own death, as a path to make sense out of existence

Show the paradoxes of economic value, through everyday social dynamics

You have permission to laugh

If that does not convince you, try this one:

Art express what philosophy and science cannot because Art can express contradiction

Matter is contradictory

Performance Art is contradictory

Latin America is contradictory

Venezuela is contradictory

USA is contradictory

Life is contradictory

Human Nature is contradictory

I am contradictory

Everything I say about my work is true, but it is also a lie

If that does not work either, try this other one:

My subconscious makes my work for me

I read the Bible

I listen to Gregorian Chants

I read about Latin American economy and the failure of socialism

I visualize the making in my mind. Then I go directly to the making

I use ephemeral materials very often because life is ephemeral very often

The form is brief because my attention is brief

The content is labyrinthic because my thought is labyrinthic

If that is still not clear, this could be helpful:

My art practice is like a euthanasia to Modernity while being pregnant of its baby