2015 Senior Theses
The Flowers of Evil Abstract
For this thesis I created a book of poetry that used select poems from Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil. I created accompanying illustrations in a modern day, cartoon Disney-esque style that serves to critique the portrayal of women in Baudelaire's work. The essays within explore the cultural landscape surrounding Baudelaire at the time he was creating his personal work, and provide background for the many aesthetic judgments I made during the creation process.
Anna Laura Katsama
You Can Barely Tell Abstract
I am assumed to be white. My racial background is not questioned unless prompted. My presence does not demand a silent-comforting statement "it wasn't me" from lips shaped like mine. My presence does not stop intimate moments of shared anger and frustration with actions against a foundation that benefits pink cheeks like mine.
My presence blends in while I sit in a seat surrounded by bodies like mine.
It is in my own power to lift my conceptual mask. I weigh the strategic and moral value in clarifying their assumption. I say it out loud, "I am black" and brace myself for their silent-comforting response. Caught off guard and confused by statement is treated as an accusation that can easily be condemned by the evidence on display, unless I supply a worthy testimony.
I answer questions and supply details of my family's brutal history. My testimony is now a spectacle, a show demanding each viewer to review its authenticity.
The evidence on display always prevails. As the author of my testimony, I am still only what they want me to be. I am applauded for my conceptual performance as I scream to myself my own silent-comfort, "You can barely tell!"
A (Tenuous) Body (of Work) Abstract
A (Tenuous) Body (of Work) is about the body, rather my body, explored through the use of ink to create female figures on various types of transparent surfaces. These surfaces are placed behind in front of one another, obscuring, allowing one's gaze. I am asking what it means to make art as a woman, and what it then means to make art that oscillates between complete transparency and impenetrability. The physical work intends to create a (phenomenological) relationship between the viewer and the (female) body that he or she becomes confronted with in a space. With such confrontation comes the questions of the gaze, especially as it exists in dialogue with feminist art theory.
The Catalogue of Ships Abstract
The Catalogue of Ships is a series of three artists' books I have made relating to the history of ships. Through these books, I am interested in commenting on aspects of shipping history that have shaped international cultural exchange, particularly between China and the West, to create a complex web of origins that I have in my heritage and upbringing. I draw attention to the ways we have learnt to think about place and origin, and use the histories of the English East India Company and the Chinese Treasure Fleet as material for my books. I also reference artists' books that focus on travel, cultural exchange, and postcolonial subjects, such as La prose du transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France by Blaise Cendrars and Sonia Delaunay-Terk, BP and Blue Lemons by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Norma by Diane Samuels, and Square Word Calligraphy by Xu Bing. While making use of canonical bookmaking traditions, I attempt to subvert canonical history.
Still Sounding Elsewhere Abstract
If a sense of scale is significant in the reception of a message from afar, it remains merely a sense. This thesis is about making sense, about the ways technologies of transmission and display have shaped sense over the last century, in the awkward alignment of information and sensation. It is about feeling, as both emotion and touch, separately but at the same time. It is about distance and about nearness. Just as media technologies grow more abundant, more networked, and closer to the skin, they seem to feel less actual in the sub-perceptual materiality of their concrete working. And yet where we cannot find the 'stuff' out of which so much of our world is made, we must look ever harder, in spaces and times which are not our own.
Hannah June Choi
Self-portrait of a Korean American: third kid culture Abstract
Where are you from? This is something I am frequently asked but am rarely sure how to respond. Over the course of writing my thesis, my feelings about this question have changed several times. My aim is to explore the confusing assumptions made about my identity through photography and self-portraiture as a Korean American third culture kid. My studio work becomes an attempt to make sense of my experiences and produce a progressive or conclusive understanding of myself in relation to identity, culture, and my home.
Enveloped from Korea Abstract
The manner in which I interact with and interpret my surroundings through visual mediums has been profoundly influenced by my adolescent exposure to the Church's "Holy Shrine," or the Cheong Pyeong Heaven and Earth Training Center in Seoul, Korea. My thesis is a body of work that responds to my history with, research of, and trip to Cheong Pyeong. Broadly, this thesis strives towards an understanding of the interrelations between ritual practices and art making. The work is comprised of several pieces: a set of drawings completed during my trip to Seoul, a cascading scroll of rubbings made at the holy grounds, a drawing on silk, and an immersive installation that seeks to reflect and then subvert my experience within the church's manipulative rhetoric of space. The writing portion of this thesis consists of three parts. I open with a general introduction that describes the connections between the Unification Church's training grounds and my artistic practice. Chapter I tracks a historical overview of the Church's growth and provides a report on my month-long research trip to Seoul. Chapter II describes how the ritualistic training that the believers undertake inscribes their mode of being in the world in sacred and profane space. Chapter III explores artists inspirational to my work and uses phenomenological theories to explore the psychical relations between my work and the church's influence.
Kira W. Jacobsen
My thesis takes at its heart a consideration of embodied spatial memory and the body of the viewers as they experience and perceive space. My research process also considers closely what it means to be an artist and to make art, in part a process of self-examination, considering closely arts relationship to the words praxis and poiesis. My project contemplates windows as both object and liminal space through the installation of window within a room in the gallery. These windows project live feed into the gallery space from the windows out of my grandmother's room at my childhood home in New Jersey. These windows are partially obscured by glass venetian blinds that I have fabricated using cut sheet glass and blind fastenings. The second part of my project is a three-channel digital video triptych installed in my studio. This installation involves an intensely vulnerable subject, the passing of my grandmother. The video is comprised of many moving and still shots in varying degrees of zoom and focus, taken with unsteady hands by a body often in motion. These shots are taken spontaneously and without prior staging or planning, collected footage taken from my daily life. My thesis project considers somewhat equally and subjective and personal point of view of an artist working as well as my theoretical practice, my understandings of embodiment and engagement with personal politics.
Marisa Rose Barone
DEEP SET Abstract
This thesis is an exploration of certain conventions of artistic activity, display and reception. In the physical work, I have made an installation comprised of both objects and text. I am experimenting with what I have chosen to call the "aesthetics of utterance," or how the way things are said and framed creates meaning. In my written work, I address some aspects of how my thinking has been influenced by, and reacts to, the ideology of early conceptual art, as well as a certain style of contemporary artistic practice called "post-internet" art. In addition, I articulate some of my positions in relation to what I am calling 'avant-garde conservatism' through a discussion of artist, musician and philosopher Henry Flynt's proposition of a recreational artistic activity. This writing explains my work as whole in terms of a desire to animate concepts. I treat the gallery as a set and the objects as props in order to open up the space of what is possible in representation.
Open Me, Close Me Abstract
Most simply and concisely put, my thesis is about our bodies and what we keep hidden. The human desire to cover up, to hide, to keep secret what we cannot bear to share, what we feel shame for, what we deem too intimate. It explores the connection between our physical bodies, our mental selves, the intimate spaces we inhabit, and the ways we express our "selves" through bodily physicality and through language. The artwork I create – a multipart installation composed of sound and found drawers installed within the gallery walls, filled with handmade artist's books and body casts made of wax and paper – delves into these questions through the lens of my own personal experience of my "self" in/as a body.
Just Think Happy Thoughts (Second Plane) Abstract
My paintings are an exploration into the transmutation of politicized 9/11 photographs into aestheticized works. They can be simplified to a photograph's transformation into an appealing image, but they are a complicated approach to the relationship between the disfiguring power of memory and the factuality of reality.
For each piece, I reproduced a 9/11 photograph but have edited its aesthetics so that it is no longer an exact replication. The four paintings measure six feet by six feet and all employ a different "beautification" process to re-aestheticize their content.
Through these pieces, I establish an "aesthetic of memory", designed for others in the post-9/11 generation and myself. In attempting to manifest my generation's approach to 9/11 by transmuting the photographs into aestheticized paintings, these images are incorporated into a canon of secondhand experience, which distorts the factuality of the event and replaces it with this aesthetic of memory.
Phenomena in Space Abstract
Imagine you are standing in line for a virtual reality demo boasting complete immersion, Rainy Day v.0001. This installation would be the exhibit along that queue. Its purpose is to explain the shape and layers of perception used to achieve a convincing illusion of subjectivity. Three layers of phenomena are defined by three colors: yellow as vision or background, blue as thought, and magenta as emotions or the body. In an interactive video, you use a dial to scroll between these layers, shifting between interior and exterior landscapes. In the exterior or visual layer, you see a first person point-of-view perspective shot of walking through Portland on a rainy day while holding an umbrella. As you switch to the interior thought layer, the screen turns to dark static. You hear the artist plan and contemplate the project, including the decision to make the project about the walk happening right then. The rest of the exhibit dissects a single moment of the walk. An oval shape indicates the perimeter of the visual field, marking the boundary between the interior and exterior within the layer of vision. Following the definitions of the three layers are the potential spatial relationships between them. Aspects of the space between and around the layers are proposed. A series of cameras and eyes raises the question of the location of the observer and observed, the loci and foci of awareness. The art is playful in its attempt to form a visual vocabulary and grammar to spatialize subjectivity. Its playfulness springs from an assurance of failure: any systemization of subjectivity is necessarily a subset of the virtually infinite range of subjective experience.
Time Warp Abstract
This thesis looks at Ethiopian textiles, with a focus on scarf border patterns. Driven by lived experience and based on scarves from a personal collection, three large woven panels were created with the idea of these border patterns in mind. The idea of an architectural space that incorporated textiles was a key factor in the design of the panels and the final installation, ultimately creating textiles that acted as architectural screens. The influences of mashrabiyas, Arabic screens that create diffuse and patterned light, were important in the original stages. The history of Ethiopian textiles and their patterns was researched to provide the academic background that the artist lacked. Looking at artists who had created work around the themes of labor, socioeconomics, and cultural issues within weaving communities helped the artist refine goals and understand how to effectively communicate similar ideas. The eventual execution of the artist's own work involved inviting participants to work on the designs, and their participation (and individual weaving styles) changed how the panels looked. They also made a weaving community surrounding the artist, allowing the artist to experience the collaborative aspects of weaving. The final products of this thesis were the three woven panels, made in honor and remembrance for a culture that has a strong relationship with the artist.