2012 Senior Theses
A Book Is A House Abstract
For my thesis I made a series of books that aimed to convey the idea of a portable home against a context of dislocation and mobility. These books are small and portable, thought the material used–tracing paper, cut artaganin, rice paper–gives them a particular fragility. These pages depict a fragmented architecture that is reduced to certain elements like arches, staircases, windows and corners of rooms. The translucency of the tracing paper and the porosity of the cut paper permit an interaction of images across layers.
My books feature a balance between interior and exterior spaces. They were initially reactionary objects loaded with cultural specificity and meant to preserve an individual identity regardless of the context they are in. Now they open up into the foreign environment and are subject to damage and alteration. They also look inward–not only through the use of imagery that suggests microscopic forms such as body tissue and neurons, but also through the nature of the structures depicted.
The written component of my thesis focused on artists who made artworks in response to their experience as migrants, and explicated the reasons why I was personally drawn towards this topic. I also discussed the intersection of text and image in certain books, and instances where the nonverbal components of a page supplement and even overtake its verbal components. This was done to highlight the sculptural aspects of books and to partially explain the nonverbal nature of my own books.
The Aesthetics of Man-Nature Duality and the Restoration Thesis Abstract
This thesis is about the aesthetic dualism between man and nature as it has been interpreted in the Environmental Movement and associated art movements. This aesthetic dualism has outlived its usefulness to the environmental cause, so as a step towards resolving this problem, I have created drawings and an installation based in a new aesthetic, as promoted by Timothy Morton, of nondifferentiation between the natural and the artificial. My site for this exploration is the Reed College Canyon.
Driving Date Abstract
This thesis explores the symbiosis of art and science—how the strengths of each field help the other to excel—and asks the question “what is useful, and what is beautiful?” in the hopes of proving that something can be both.
For this thesis I have created a book of data visualizations that draw on the chart of the nuclides, and in this essay I have written about the various ways in which art and science interact with each other.
Mutable Market Space: Revitalizing the Lents Urban Renewal Area Abstract
“Mutable Market Space: proposes a site development plan and mixed-use market design as part of the revitalization process for the Lents Urban Renewal area in Portland, Oregon. In order to give Lents a distinct civic identity, I argue for a market design that is adaptive to and expressive of the environmental character of the region. I discuss how Critical Regionalist and Pacific Northwest Regionalist design principles offer rich examples from which to inspire a public market design that evokes an emotional connection with nature. Rather than replicating traditional design elements seen in the extant Lents structures, the open-air market aspires toward an unalterable regional identity, to the end that it will create a vital social space for long-term growth in Lents.
True Believer: An Exploration of the Practice and Practicality of Art Abstract
This thesis engages with the medium of comics as a powerful staging ground for new methods of visual communication and storytelling. In blending academic and practical approaches to the creation of graphic narratives, I hope simultaneously to demystify and deepen the discourse surrounding comics and the creative arts at large.
Performance Photography: Consumption, Attraction, & Repulsion Abstract
This thesis outlines the influence of installation, performance and photography on my artistic endeavors. The body of work created as a result of studying artists like Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman explores the nature of consumption, attraction and repulsion in contemporary art. The final result is manifested in a display heavily influenced by advertising and mass media.
The Fog: Comics, Self-Reference, and Art as Reflection Abstract
My thesis project is a 29-page comic, bound in a booklet with a few older strips for effect, that seeks to explore the themes of self-reflexivity, the nature of the creative act, and the idea of art as insight to life through removal from it. It rests on a wide variety of explicit external references and, visually, attempts to take full advantage of the medium’s possibilities, no only in borrowing from other forms, but also in terms of page and panel design. The accompanying essay discusses all of these themes in detail, with an analysis of the work and the two artists most influential upon it, George Herriman and Robert Crumb.
Rachel Peterson Schmerge
ReCollection: Manifestations of Memory in the Home and the Museum Abstract
This thesis is an exploration into the ways identity is formed through collecting in the museum, the home, and my artwork. In the written portion, I examine how collected objects become invested with meaning by looking at the way they function as material evidence of the past and instigate narratives of memory. In both the home and the museum, individuals and societies rely on these charged objects to understand themselves and give shape to their identity. Conceptually, my studio work draws upon the theoretical underpinnings of collecting while exploring the topic of home. I made four different pieces from collected materials that were indexical to the places represented in my art. I sought to employ various strategies of collection and display in order to make work that straddles the line between the domestic and the institutional.
Untitled (Dappled) Abstract
The piece “Untitled (Dappled)” is a video projection of an original experimental animation. The imagery of the video was sourced from the natural phenomenon of shadow and light rippling together on the ground on a windy, sunny day in Portland, Oregon, that was translated into a cel animation drawn with graphite on bleached vellum paper. The written component of this thesis covers topics based in my experiential knowledge and the functional characteristics of cinema that draw me to work in animation. Animation’s relation to cinema is sometimes tenuous and often contested but provides the perfect playground for my thesis work.
This paper is written in conjunction with a studio-based project, Atmospheres, an augmented reality walking tour through the SE industrial area of Portland. This paper begins by addressing advertisement’s domination of visual culture and the socially engaged practices that arise alongside it, both of which continually weave themselves into the fabric of the everyday. The paper furthers by focusing on the importance of stress on social actors, the relevance of sidewalk culture, and the need for mutability in daily activities. This paper and the accompanying project offers a mode of artistic production that furthers a sensitivity to place, engendering a new consideration of the complex web of agencies in a new technologically impositioned physical reality.
Haptic House Abstract