Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Art

Committee Member

Kathleen Thum, Committee Chair

Committee Member

David M. Detrich

Committee Member

Beth A. Lauritis

Abstract

Those who precede us in the continuum of humanity may affect our lives even if we are unaware of their influence. To illustrate the residue of previous generations, I emboss textiles inherited from my Southern American family. Formerly useful and distinctly decorative, these embroidered handkerchiefs, crocheted doilies, lace nightgowns and dress gloves are now antiquated curiosities. Using the force of a printing press, I form shadowy impressions of the articles on paper to communicate presence in absence, then manipulate the images with various media. I literally rinse, wring and dry many of these works in an effort to elevate the accepted understanding of domestic labor usually undertaken by women. Subverting the act of washing, I then apply smudges, streaks and line drawings to deepen the surface texture. Most of the artifacts inhabit a quiet, central place on the picture plane, allowing them to exceed their perceived value and redefining their context as memorials to bygone traditions. Layers of ragged cheesecloth shroud some of the pieces, obfuscating the image to suggest loss and the unreliability of fading memories. Portions of the drawings hearken to root forms or body structures, providing an illusion of longevity that contradicts the reality of the impermanence of home and family. My sculpture includes brittle, decaying magnolia leaves that, in an act of futility, I embellish with intricate, fractured drawings. Through this body of work and the steps involved in my process I communicate the paradox that exists between careful preservation of possessions and the burden of stewardship that sometimes accompanies inheritance.

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