Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
SHADE is an exhibition of graphite pencil drawings that place viewers on the precarious edge of meaning. Techniques of representational drawing such as form and perspective vaguely allude to latent, traceable narratives, then destabilize the viewer’s search with confounding two-dimensional spaces, and loosely defined forms. Small, mundane scenes such as campsites, diners, and bars, are enveloped or obscured by dense, graphite expanses of skin-like surfaces. These elements destabilize viewers’ convenient categorizations of darkness, fog, or space. The identifiable scenes have reduced contexts: facial expressions, interior décor, and landscape features. These are obscured or withheld to reduce visual justifications for the viewers’ conferred meanings. This instability gives viewers the problem of negotiating ambiguous meanings and ultimately highlights the malleability of our perceptive experience.
The work is informed by critical analyses of my representational drawing practice and underpinned by absurdist, phenomenological, and existentialist theories regarding human quests for latent or universal meanings. Through my process, I wrestle with how traditions of representational drawing can limit the viewer’s range of experiences with the work. I explore how the embodied process of mark-making with pencil and paper affects viewers’ rationale of the images. I make the distinctions between perceiving visuals of an image versus judging them. I elaborate on how the space and material of the drawings evoke qualities of the sublime. Lastly, I elaborate on how ambiguity reduces the speed in which viewers can confer meaning, while still holding open a door for new associations, memory projections, and individual meanings.
Bolton, Jonathan, "SHADE" (2023). All Theses. 4046.