Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2018

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


I believe waking up and making art is a political act, regardless of intent. To engage in art is to engage in culture, and culture is inevitably interlinked with political ethos. Thus making art is forever interlinked with politics. This is not a revolutionary idea for me; it can be traced all the way back to Dadaism. That art should be active in the leveling of the patriarchy by any means necessary is without question a personal belief I share with Dadaism

. I also believe in ghosts. My perception is that all art work is that of a depiction of a memory; and that all memories are the ghosts of the past. Thus it would be, from my understanding, that all art work is essentially that of a ghost story; and, by proxy, depictions of ghosts. My belief is that memory is the residual haunts of our past, which in my way of thinking is the ghost of our pasts. Since art work boiled down is based off of a memory of something, this would fundamentally make art a ghost story.

My work investigates the notion of deja-vu and haunts within our cultural collective memory. I find the phenomenon of déjà-vu that continually haunts cultural memory and creates a displacement in reality is the best location for my canoe to enter the river of art. Similar to the way the late artist Mike Kelley was concerned with suppressed trauma within cultural memory and believed the repressive trauma was caused by sanctioned rites of passage, my work concerns itself with the displaced reality that comes from the suppression of cultural memory that we experience as a haunt. This haunt is associated with the fear that comes from actively negating the past, yet continuously allowing it to speak for us and give us meaning.

In this thesis I will discuss the term “Hauntology,” a word that has taken on a slippage of meaning in its own right, as applied to cultural memory’s’ displacement of reality, and how that displacement and inclusion create a déjà-vu meant to be shared and used as a layering device within artistic compositions. Originally coined by the French theorist Jacques Derrida, “Hauntology” suggested that deconstructing language is a relatively absurd task because language is built from several cultural tissues, so that there is no real origin. Instead, “Hauntology” insists upon a deferred non-linear origin of sign and symbol, and is best represented by the nonentity, which is to say language acts as a reference to the unidentified ghost that haunts. I will also discuss how the Theorist Marvin Carlson suggested that because of the terminology created by Derrida we can use this term “Hauntology” to understand and read art on multiple, personal layers. Multivalent readings help us understand how genre works, and how we define art types.


English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Thesis Advisor

Buzz Spector

Studio/Primary Advisor

Lisa Bulawsky

Studio/Primary Advisor

Michael Byron

Committee Member

Jamie Adams

Committee Member

Jamie Adams

Artist's Statement

My work lies in the same bedroom as the psychedelic and camp aesthetic that promotes confusion while postulating equality. Along with it lie drug folklore, love, occult conspiracies, and cultural phenomena. It is as if the work were Fox Mulder, from the popular FOX network show The X-Files, as an angst-ridden teenager sitting in a bedroom filled with bong smoke, Christmas lights, psychedelic posters, succulent plants, with odd ceramic sculptures littering the window sill, who is trying to impress his partner Dana Scully by playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon while the M.G.M. production of The Wizard of Oz plays in the background.

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