Date of Award

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Visual Arts

Advisor

Kathleen Thum

Committee Member

Dr. Andrea Feeser

Committee Member

Dr. Beth Lauritis

Committee Member

Todd McDonald

Abstract

Through my drawings, I focus on jostling the passive American viewer out of her/his complacent acceptance of the images delivered by popular media outlets. Using humor as a multi-functional tool, I combine and reinterpret recognizable media artifacts to comment on the content that makes up American culture. This body of work is a cultural critique, pitting the ridiculous and superficial entertainment we (Americans) so easily ingest against current and crucial moments in time (i.e: political protests, violence, death, etc). Often times, the current media landscape is saturated with fast-cycling images and stories that do not promote careful contemplation. Instead, these hurried/short-lasting bits of information are consumed, providing momentary satiation until the next news is delivered. It is my intention to disrupt the flow of news as entertainment to create moments of critical awareness through visual work, while pointing out the disturbing methods news organizations employ to encourage and perpetuate a culture that lacks agency. I do this through my work and by citing relevant theoretical writing, current and historical artists and genres serving to bolster my critiques. I use multiple strategies to critique American media in a variety of ways. Beginning with the talking heads literally delivering the news, the anchorpersons and their feigned emotions, I use traditional aspects of portraiture to capture the disturbing theatrics so common in the news. Process, the way that I draw, the substrate, the scale of the images, and the media I use, are all integral elements that influence the meaning of my work. Another notion I investigate is the idea of paradox. Mixing and matching images that are silly or absurd with images that are horrifying is a common strategy used to provoke an unsettled response from a reticent viewer. An added intention of mine is to extract images from Internet-based news sources in order to change their original meaning. Rendering casualties from current wars and skirmishes, I relocate these figures to a serene space where they become memorialized. Through most of these methods, a simultaneously dissipating and resurfacing humor is intertwined in the work (with the exception of the war time casualties series). The images have many different/contrasting qualities and evoke different sentiments. The contrasts often equate to contradictory viewer responses. It is this method of cognitive dissonance that works to critique American News media and subverts the way news media is received. My overarching intention for this body of work is to mediate images seen on the news in order to provide viewers with opportunities for contemplation. I do this using a variety of drawing styles, different types of humor, mixing and matching images, and extracting and isolating images. My own cognitive dissonance, or, the discomfort I feel when experiencing contradictory thoughts, leads me to make peculiar decisions in my attempt to critique a disturbing part of American culture.

Included in

Fine Arts Commons

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