Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2021

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

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 40 million people report feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress as the world moves at an increasingly rapid pace and faces unprecedented challenges. However, many ignore these negative thoughts and fail to acknowledge them as a serious issue. My art, which shares my own experiences, creates safe, cathartic places for viewers to think about their own emotional experiences. Crucial to this process is my use of daily objects and the creation of individualized, participatory, and multisensory experiences.

My art relates to daily life and the negative emotions that we experience daily. I use familiar, daily objects in my art to incorporate personal narratives that engage with viewers. Beyond each viewer’s own experience with the object, my found objects are a lens through which viewers see a self-portrait of an artist. Since daily objects already have many connotations with which they are associated, I use daily objects to enrich conversations about mental health, and build intimacy and connections between myself and viewers.

My artworks hope to reveal every person’s individuality in a multi-layered way based on their unique interaction and interpretation of my work. In order to create an individualized experience, I generate participatory work based on a multisensory experience to evoke a viewer’s empathy. Empathic exchange with viewers creates a moment of shared personal experience between the artist and viewer. Through my artwork, I observe audience members react and respond to my work differently, revealing their individuality and varied experiences as they all respond to the same, familiar object.

In my thesis, Art and Empathy: Self Discovery in a Dark Forest, I will explain how my art relates to the experience of daily life and emotional experiences brought on by events such as death, isolation, and other hardships, by discussing the familiarity and accessibility of daily objects in my art. Furthermore, I show how engaging with my art encourages people to deal with emotions in meaningful ways.

Language

English (en)

Program Director

Lisa Bulawsky

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Thesis Advisor

Monika Weiss

Studio/Primary Advisor

Timothy Portlock

Studio/Primary Advisor

Cheryl Wassenaar

Committee Member

Wyly Brown

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Artist's Statement

I believe art encourages people to engage with their emotions in meaningful ways. Art is my primary emotional outlet because it releases my anxieties to make my daily life peaceful. My art, and my self-reflection as I create art, provide me with a purpose. Since my art is about the experience of daily life, including its hardships and challenges, it is innately tied to everyday experiences. By using daily objects, I explore how art seeps into life. Further, by sharing my own experiences in my art, I invite the audience to engage with, experience, and potentially even deal with their own negative feelings.

My art is composed of everyday objects and based on daily situations because of my interest in connecting my ordinary life and art. In my artwork, daily objects are noticeable tools to pursue poetic and sentimental expression, including my narrative, reflecting my present situation. As daily objects exist in human life and interact with people directly, they can have multiple meanings for each individual. I believe the daily objects in my artwork function as a bridge to connect my personal narrative with viewers by prompting me to ask myself how these familiar objects can have both shared and individual meanings.

My artworks reveal every person's own individuality in a multilayered way based on their unique interaction and interpretation of my work. In order to approach viewers at an individual level, I create an installation space with my chosen and manipulated objects and generate multisensory experiences to encourage their active participation and intimate engagement. In addition, I create installation art for one person to view at a time, rather than multiple people enjoying my work simultaneously.

One-on-one empathic exchange with viewers is essential in my artworks because it also creates a moment of shared personal experience between myself and the viewer. I create an environment through my artwork that closely replicates my own experience, so that it will become their experience too. Empathic exchange is important for connecting with viewers who share similar experiences to me and generating understanding with those who have not experienced those issues. As a result, I hope we can understand each other more, but everyone still has the opportunity to make their own meaning out of their experience with my art.

In my art practice, I explore empathic exchange and the possibility of free interpretation of art, by considering the ordinary and familiar. To create a place for free conversation through art, I want to relate individuals' daily lives and issues in society to art. By expanding the point of contact between art and human life, I hope my artwork can make daily life better and console people who live in a tired society and need emotional care, creating a space where they can find solace.

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