Date of Award

12-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Art

Committee Member

David Detrich, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Andrea Feeser

Committee Member

Todd McDonald

Abstract

Sampling gesture, form, and monumentality from Classical figure sculpture, art history becomes an avenue for exploring tropes of the parallels between man and animal. Raw construction and shipping materials comprise these figures, interrupting conventions of display, archive, transport, and institution. Species are spliced and integrated into the human figure in each of the compositions. Traditionally, the animal is used as metaphor for different human conditions, emotions, and behaviors; our relationships to animals is one that stands the test of time in art. The animal becomes an extension of the figure's human-ness, while also acting as mere prop for the figure. Nonetheless, the myth and composition is contingent on the relationship between human and creature. Challenging the conventions of display and viewing, my material choice inherently contrasts the traditional materials like marble, bronze, or plaster associated with standards of fine art. Through application of these building materials, the body becomes a layered symbol for systematic construction, subject to tensions of hierarchies like those of the materials. Their provisionality is tantamount to contrasting the exclusivity present in the art museum and academia in which the forms that inspire my works have traditionally operated. I place emphasis on the supports of these figures to further contextualize them within traditions of art history, trade, archive, and transport. Plastic sheeting separates and conceals views of the figures, suggesting that they reside in a state of restoration or storage. I compare this state of non-viewing to a state of limbo, which I use to describe art viewed in multiple degrees of exhibition and completion. Not every part of the figure is intact; the wood pallets, casters, and ramps that comprise their substantial bases directly reference these behind-the-scene spaces. Furthermore, the physical state of transport becomes a metaphor for personal or spiritual journey. I compare the underlying building materials to a subconscious function of the body that, when exposed, can metaphorically represent a more realistic self than an externally-constructed identity. Through the lens of fine art consumption, the work frames humanity and mortality in a state of incompletion that signals that to be human is to be a perpetual work-in-progress.

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