Always Be A Wilderness: to cross over and rise
Date of Award
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
This thesis examines the work of Katie Walker for the Washington University in St. Louis Printmaking/Drawing BFA Thesis Show. My work consists of a video and an artist book, both investigating the familiar sites of my own body and the spaces I inhabit. Through my work, I try to understand the ways that familiar sites can be both sites of emotional distance and sometimes, transcendence, which I define in the thesis as an experience which makes one feel a part of something larger than themselves. Drawing upon the research of J.I. Martin, I show how secular modernity causes a greater need for transcendence through non-traditional sites like sex and art, rather than religion or nature, especially for those who hold the role of “the other” in society. In this thesis, I study the work of artists Nan Goldin and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, placing their work in conversation with mine. Both artists use their personal lives to create work that is politically relevant, blurring categories and crossing boundaries. I conclude that in order to create a site for transcendence, the artist must expose their vulnerabilities and raise the stakes for risk, thus raising the investment of the viewer and their likelihood to be moved. Transcendence is fleeting, and so must be considered in conversation with what surrounds the fleeting moment. I find that a state of transcendence is not possible without its opposite, a state of stress, pain, or burden. Rather, its value comes from its impermanent nature.
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Walker, Katharine E., "Always Be A Wilderness: to cross over and rise" (2013). Undergraduate Theses—Unrestricted. 11.