Spring 2016 Studio Art Undergraduate Research

Shanna G. Blake, Shape of the Heart and the Mystery of Meaning

The human heart is far more than a blood pumping organ. It is the source of life’s vitality, and the institute of feeling, thought, and even memory. The heart shape is necessary to generate reason in an observer. Heart ideograms are especially vital to religions such as ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and more. Many religions use both the imagery and the existence of the physical heart to represent emotional and spiritual qualities. The iconological symbol of the heart that we have today originated and developed in the late Middle Ages. Renaissance artists established the now widely used “heart shape” while the intertwining of religious virtuosities and romantic love developed “heart metaphors”. The significant connotation of the heart is to serve as an empty vessel to be filled with love; romantic and spiritual. Through the symbolic nature of the heart, the audience becomes fascinated with a feeling that transcends life and when depicted properly can leave an impression of vicarious grandeur. Through my art and research I explore these spiritual and metaphorical qualities by manipulating wood and various other materials to make unique sculptural pieces that can profoundly portray the assorted conditions of the human heart. Allegories such as the romantic, wounded, broken, inflamed, and winged hearts are just a few ideas I reference in my own body of work through carving, casting, and employing a variety of mediums.
Fri 1:00pm-1:20pm Owen 101

Jesse Hinson, Grieving in Art

Dealing with the unexpected death of a close family member is, in many ways, incredibly traumatic. While experiences vary from person to person it is not uncommon for many to feel immense and overwhelming feelings of guilt, fear, anger, and anxiety; as well as, resentment towards other family members and questioning one’s personal faith or spirituality. With this body of work I hope to portray those same feelings of grief experienced by families that lose others unexpectedly, specifically those that lose children. By creating bold and photo realistic prints of baby dolls, and other child-like imagery, I hope that the viewer will in some ways be able to walk away feeling some of those same emotions. However, to counter act that, these images will be printed onto hand dyed fabrics or incorporated into fabric crafts so that something loving, caring, and warm can balance out the more negative emotions. With this research I hope to better understand how these emotions manifest in others and how people learn and grow to deal with them. By producing works that directly correlate with these experiences and combining them with things that feel more like labors of love, this research will help provide a more thoughtful process and portfolio.
Fri 2:40pm-3:00pm Owen 102

Max Killion, Reverse Tarot: A Representation of Extreme Negative Thinking

Individuals with self-loathing mentalities trap themselves in a vicious cycle of self-fulfilled prophecies that inhibit their ability to see their world rationally. Because someone with distorted logic will only see what they want; if what they want to see is their own devastation, then they will find a way to confirm it for themselves. This series of graphite drawings visually explores the extent to which these people forcibly infer negative connotations to support a belief of their own self-deprecation. Using tarot cards as a vehicle for this idea, the artist takes the original cards' meanings and distorts the information to an extreme caricature skewed towards the macabre. Research on the topic presented in this paper explores why this phenomenon occurs, and by extension what allows it to cycle into itself. The resulting artwork presents this pitfall of pessimism by being intentionally ignorant of each individual piece of the tarot cards' favorable outlooks. Throughout the series, a transition is communicated of this phenomenon, growing more extreme and twisted as a portrayal of this diseased thinking swallows the individual's sense of logic and reality, and shows the cynic's twisted interpretation of what fate they pull toward themselves. Influences are taken from contemporary Polish painter Zdziszlaw Beksinski for his surrealist representations of figures and their environment and Austrian painter Gustav Klimt for his use of patterning and metal leaf. 
Friday 1:40-2:00 pm OH 101

Marisa Mahathey, Experiencing the Connection: A Ceramic Exploration of One

The word “one” is representative of wholeness and unity. One is the source of all numbers and an image for divine unity. Through transitioning of beliefs from childhood to adulthood, growing up in a Christian household and searching beyond those teachings, Experiencing the Connection discovers the importance of unity by exploring religion and personal truth. The sense of oneness and interconnection has become a personal truth, the essential belief, and symbolizes the series. An inherent intimacy is formed when creating with clay; a potter creates simply with their hands, using no other tool. Working on the potter’s wheel is a conversation, one must not only speak to the clay by guiding it into the shape desired, but one must also listen; being aware of and open to what the clay is saying and then reacting to that is the most important aspect of throwing. The metaphorical conversation that a potter has with clay during the creation process can then be “heard” when viewing a handmade pot. The pot will reveal qualities about the potter: preferences, care, and even imperfections. The immediate intimacy and connection between the clay and the potter provide the foundation for the conversation that produced this series. Through the crafting of jars, unity is created. The jar form has the added component of the lid, creating an essential need for two pieces to fit together. To add further communication between the lid and jar, complementary designs, are carved to be aesthetically pleasing on their own, yet are more powerful when stacked upon or placed with other jars. The unity is then multiplied from one jar and lid to an entire stack or family of jars, making the visual experience, or conversation, more meaningful.
Fri 3:00pm-3:20pm Owen 102

Lyndsey Roberts, In Search of What Was

The psychology of art is contemplated and defined in many ways. Questioning what makes art the powerful thing it is can be tied to the psychological search for artistic meaning. Art becomes cathartic when the process reveals hidden feelings and emotions. The series In Search of What Was uses catharsis as a discovery of nostalgia for childhood and its wonders. Through the use of symbolism of spheres and spirals, as well as the inspiration of fractal patterning, the artist uses clay to throw orbs that differ in size, then clusters them together in staggering numbers to represent feelings of loss of imagination felt upon growing up. This collection is the artist’s catharsis for the nostalgia of childhood. Mysterious for its association with round objects such as the far off planets, secrets held by a crystal ball, and the protective shell of an egg, the orb is used in this series to rekindle lost feelings of imagination and a sense of protection felt as a child. Compulsive groupings are made, alluding to the need to answer the mysteries of life, while the repeated use of the globular forms shows importance and therefore a higher meaning or purpose. The use of repetition creates a sense of calmness and familiarity associated with the ease of childhood that is often lacking in the fast pace of an adult life. Together these elements recreate the artist’s lost feelings of intrigue, imagination, and playfulness felt as a child. 
Fri 1:20pm-1:40pm Owen Hall 101

Kristin Sorenson, The Past 5 Years: Using Art as Empathy Practice

The Past 5 Years addresses the ability of evoking an emotional response through drawings and the importance of regularly practicing empathy. This collection of drawings focus on what a person does when they experience loss: how they move their body, what they do with their hands, the words they say, and the objects they touch. The Past 5 Years investigates a family’s response to a sibling’s disappearance and subsequent return. Synthesis of representational figurative drawings and words recreates an intimate moment of candid emotion. The words throughout these pieces represent the conversations, journal entries, and prayers that coincide with these sensitive moments. The recognizable gestures, portrayed in this collection of charcoal drawings, give the viewer the ability to empathize with the drawings. Extensive research on the subject of empathy and its effects generated several different methods to practice empathy, and evoke this feeling. Some of which included, listening to another’s experience, sharing personal stories. This body of work questions how art can be used to help someone become more empathetic as well as the social and personal benefits of empathy.
Friday 2:20-1:40 pm 101

Christine Ashley Thomas, Reclamation of Self Through Form: Making the Internal, External

Making the internal, external—through art—is a path towards truth, acceptance, and enlightenment. In the series, Reclamation of Self through Form, figurative clay sculpture is the vehicle of this message. In the aftermath of being raped and the dissociation caused by it, sculpting forms with clay is a visceral manifestation of the healing process. The relationship and tension between the female form and nature-inspired abstractions expresses that which is experienced on an internal level. Creating ceramic sculptures is symbolic of reclaiming the physical body and exploring the internal: subconscious memories, thoughts, and emotions related to such a traumatic event. The abstractions of the sculpted female shell represent an interpretation of the soul or the mind, which tends to be more complex and mysterious. A psychological metamorphosis is shown in the destructive manipulation of the clay body, which leaves a space for new growth. The connection between the figure and these abstracted forms holds a deeper meaning related to the internal state of things. This is also seen in Ana Mendieta, Maria Martins, and Sophie Kahn’s use of the human figure in some aspect in their artwork, even though the mediums are different. Making the internal, external—through art—is a visual representation and form of communication to bring more understanding for the artist and the viewer.
Friday 12:20-12:40 pm OH 101

Kevin Watson, The Mad King's Caernival: World-Building as Artistic Practice

Often seen as fantasy, imaginary worlds have a profound connection to the real world. Indeed, it is in the imagination that we wrestle with the religious, moral, and ontological worlds that define subjective experiences. Imaginary worlds, therefore, are just as potent, and, arguably, just as “real” as the real world, and are created through a process known as world-building. Many creators use these worlds as socio-political, religious, and philosophical thought experiments to describe specific world-views, which in turn uphold or challenge standing perceptions of the “real” world. In order to understand these differing conceptions of world, this body of research explores the creative act of world-building by constructing an imaginary world, The Mad King’s Caernival, through an innovative combination of both traditional and digital media. Following Mikhail Bakhtin’s ideas of the carnivalesque, the world of the Caernival reveres the grotesque, and idealizes bodies that challenge hegemonic standards of “normal”. Thus, these Caernival bodies express and embody moral perspectives of right and wrong/good or bad that challenge normal, ontological conceptions of what a body is, does, and is supposed to be. In this way, the research project not only acts as a world-building exercise, it also critiques real world values and expectations about the human body.
Friday 12:40-1:00 pm Owen 101