Date of Award

Spring 2016

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



From its very beginnings, my artistic practice has revolved around space, broadly conceived. Phenomenology leant me its language to explain the heuristic marvel of perspective, of the translation of dimensional space into flat, planar information, of the imposition and projection of this practiced thing back onto embodied experience. My protracted, if variable ventures into phenomenology have been crucial to the language of my creative practice, but a syntactical side stepping of that field’s seemingly inborn theoretical dilemmas would be made in bad faith[1]. That phenomenology seems to have been doomed from its very outset to be unfinished, unfinishable indicates the difficulty, the futility of parsing out a subject like meaningful experience of the world. Meaning itself (and its myriad sensate, experiential roots) stubbornly resists categorical partitioning and reduction, a circumstance which bumps up against another to form a paradox -- making meaning of the world is itself is fundamentally a kind of categorical reduction, a thing is a hole in a thing it is not[2]. The environ, the life-world is something that we cannot help but understand through categorical pairs, Foucault’s inviolable oppositions: private | public; leisurely | utilitarian; intimate | social; itinerant | anchored, categories “nurtured by the hidden presence of the sacred.[3]

I cannot accept[4] phenomenology, and likewise cannot circumvent it. I cannot untangle the intersections of subject and life-world much less its intersections with other subjects and their life-worlds; I cannot discern if the home or the road came first[5], or if meaning in phenomenal experience precedes the imagined place or the cinematic image repertoire. I cannot even begin to neatly pull experience and meaning apart into its constitutive parts (though I find myself always trying). And so, in lieu of a salient, tight theoretical opus of my practice and its engagement with space, I will instead recount several passages through it, trips. What follows is EASY READING MNESMOSYNE ROAD ATLAS, a kind of travelogue. The trips included are interrelated; their meanings echo and invert each other. They are real passages, they are remembered, they are imagined, they are virtual, they are dimensional. They are mine, they are taken by others before me, they are implied, they are imaginary, historical, retold. The trips outlined here are not, quite obviously, an exhaustive account of kinds of human passages, of course, just as this is not an exhaustive account of ways of being-in-the-world[6]. It is rather a sampling of passages germane to my work, my dread, passages through places bearing significant meaning to me, places I assign meaning to, places I have lived in and likewise imagined and re-membered for myself constantly, within and outside my studio. I do not endorse all these trips – in fact, I object to, and do not find any personal resonance in the tenor of some of them, but have nevertheless included them as important counterweights for my trips, for my work, for my Mnemosyne Atlas.

[1] Real understood in various, often conflicting ways w/ reference to the life-world and elsewhere

[2] Robert Smithson, 1968

[3] Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces”, 2.

[4] Fred Moten, In The Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 203.

[5] JB Jackson poses this question in “Roads Belong in the Landscape”, in A Sense of Place, A Sense of Time, JB Jackson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.), 189-205.

[6] The whole purpose of this structure is to bypass, to avoid the impossible, if quite tempting impulse to work out an exhaustive theoretical framework


English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Dr. Nathaniel Jones

Committee Member

Jessica Baran

Artist's Statement

Permanent URL:

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2116