Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Legacy Department

Visual Arts

Committee Member

Professor Todd McDonald, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Professor Kathleen Thum

Committee Member

Professor Todd Anderson

Committee Member

Dr. Andrea Feeser

Abstract

I explore our skin's durability as it protects our inner being, but its fragility in our death. Paint allows me to understand the physical quality of skin and the structure underneath its surface. We experience the world and one another through this outermost layer of our selves, providing the ability to feel touch and to establish corporeal bounds and connections. Skin provides a means of communication and interaction, of touch and intimacy. It contains, protects, and stretches with the growth of the body, adapting to the interior bodily demands. It is through this growth that there is also a regression or a slow decay of the body. In addition to exterior exploration, I also investigate the vitality of our viscera even when disease destroys it and claims our lives. From this visual exploration, the tension between the reality of life and death begins to emerge. My paintings engage the disconnect between living and dying. Our experiences of both can be beautiful and repulsive, intimate and removed, private and public, and involve connections as well as loss. My work's content, formal qualities, and historical and contemporary references, elicit physical, emotional, and existential reflections on life and death. The works and studies of artists from the Italian Renaissance, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, have influenced my work through their dedicated desire to understand our physical existence and anatomical structure. The human body, the subject of my artwork, is inspired through the exploration of paint and flesh by artists like Peter Paul Rubens, Jenny Saville, and Lucian Freud. The skin as a means to understand the surface of our being is explored through the works of Anne Noggel and Susan D'Amato, helping to shape my own investigation. Lastly, the work of Mona Hatoum challenged my thoughts on bodily representation, altering my investigation of the exterior to beyond the surface of flesh. It is through the work of these artists, their processes, and various depictions of the human body that my own reflections upon our existence and mortality in this finite state are evoked.

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