Master of Fine Arts Thesis

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    Under the Skin
    (Alfred University, 2023) Wang, Vivian
    My work exists to capture, give form to and emanate feelings experienced. I rely on the body who retains their vivid memory. Every feeling I pursue must find its material form. That material form sets its own requirements in terms of the appropriate mediums to use. I do not subscribe to any particular medium for my art. I often use media technologies that are familiar to me together with other mediums because they help me achieve the forms I pursue. I work with four dimensions, space and time, as they are sensed by the body. My sensorial interest often results in immersive or interactive installations where I try to involve the viewer’s body as a sensorium. I choose materials that engage as many senses as possible. I have a penchant for textiles because they involve touch. I use carbonized wood and essential oils to stimulate the sense of smell. Video projection helps me gen erate the ghostly effects of fleeting memories or the persistence of traumatic obsessions. Robotic kinesis helps me recreate memories associated with movements. Books allow me to engage the viewers with greater intimacy. I do not tell stories. I try to place the viewer in situations where the experiences will generate feelings, they will recognize through the bodily memories revived. The human body that senses and remembers serves as our com mon denominator. The viewers provide the stories to themselves.
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    Fantasy Download
    (Alfred University, 2023) Turner, Sarah; Souther, Eric; Deutsch, Andrew; Scheer, Joseph
    FANTASY DOWNLOAD is a container, a spell, a broadcast, and a celebration. What can we envision in a world that is reorganizing itself after such devastation? How can we manifest it, hold onto it, build upon it? glitch_bitch, a cam girl priestess, can guide you towards your own fantasy reality. Enter her world, and unlock new visions of ecstasy, pleasure, and spiritual enlightenment. For a small fee, you can pass through a new threshold into a dreamscape of your own desires. Let go of your shame, fear, guilt, and mundanity and embrace what is veiled behind the screen. Big Daddy Universe is calling. Meet him halfway.
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    Atemporal Miscellany
    (Alfred University, 2023) Kripper, Kevin
    I was introduced to personal computers, game consoles, and the Internet at a very early age. I belong to one of the first generations in Argentina with such technology available in those first years of life. By the age of eight, there was already a desktop computer, a Sega Genesis, and a dial-up connection at home. Even younger, my parents enrolled me in Futurekids, an after school computer camp to learn about, and produce with, emerging new technologies. Back then, computer courses were not offered at school, so it was there, where I first experimented with creating digital drawings, animations, recording, editing digital audio and video, and more. This probably sparked my interest in all processes involving different technologies, and sent me into an eclectic journey that eventually led me into computer-assisted art and craftsmanship, and creative software development. In other words, for the past ten years, I have been going back and forth (and trying to merge all together) fine arts, creative programming, product design, advertising and education. That is why I ended up calling myself a “media researcher” rather than an artist, as I approach the different mediums I work with from a broad perspective that not only includes the arts, but also toolmaking and teaching. Part of my work emerges from my interest in media itself. Using self developed tools, found material from art and technology history, and speculative futures/pasts, I engage with topics that explore notions of appropriation, authorship, techno-phobias, glitch (in it’s pure form), new media art conservation, and media archeology. These pieces are generally presented as interactive installations, sculptures and mixed reality experiences. This path I took made me explore a wide range of technologies from the present and the past, and experiment combining them into hybrid systems as a way to change the future. Sometimes, these explorations take the shape of a conceptual art piece, and other times, as tools to assist myself (and others) in the creative process and art practice. The mutual symbiotic relationship I established with technology to create art, while departing from it to comment on, challenge and develop technology, albeit beautiful, made my body of work very complex since it explore a wide variety of topics and aesthetics, even making it seems to be done by different artists. So, for clarity, I tend to split my artistic practice in two: My other body of work relates to Vsynth, a self developed digital lab of modular video synthesis, image processing and video-tool design inspired by the video culture of the late 60’s and 70’s where artists, engineers and programmers worked together co-creating new technologies for the art but also for liberating the spirit and expand consciousness. I was deeply inspired by the visual fantasies Eric Siegel had in mind when he wondered...
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    Body Like a Thorn
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Walton, Victoria; Hanes, Stephanie; Hopp, Johnathan; McConnell, Walter; Montgomery, Lindsay; Sikora, Linda; Willard, Adero
    Body Like A Thorn encompasses how it feels to be actively in resistance. Through prioritizing narratives of Black queer|trans and disabled persons, I illustrate a push and pull between the constrictive systems from dominant expectations of being to the organic, where there is room and belonging for nonconformity and variety. This tension is felt in the various installations, wall-hanging textile collages, the nets pulling coiled ceramic vessels, and life-size figurative works. I meld my disability activism and theory into tangible forms. What is natural cannot be contained and cannot be held back. Through the work, I am able to assert that the Black nonconforming person is seen as a thorn to conventional society. Through the subversion of norms, the thorn is activated in a new way, to re-establish agency against normative assimilation, and to accept the beauty of their differences as part of the natural world.
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    Mana Dir
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Shrestha, Shushank; Hanes, Stephanie; Hopp, Johnathan; McConnell, Walter; Montgomery, Lindsay; Sikora, Linda; Willard, Adero
    ‘Mandir’ is made of the Sanskrit word‘s ‘mana’ meaning ‘inner self’ and ‘dir’ meaning ‘a place.’ This paper is a personal reflection of my journey of transformation and self discovery, centered on the exploration of what it means to be human in the present day. I draw around the concept of animism, which is the belief that every inanimate object has a spirit or a soul, and argue that this idea can help foster a deep appreciation and respect for the world around us, including the divine energies that are present in it. To illustrate this concept, I look into cartoons and Disney animated movies as a source of inspiration and fantasy. These works of art are not only entertaining but also convey emotions and ideas that may be difficult to express through other means. They offer a way to escape from the stresses of everyday life and enter a magical world where anything is possible. As people grow up, they tend to forget the freedom and positivity of childhood. By invoking the spirit of animism and the inspiration of cartoons, I created an exhibition that will remind viewers of the joy and wonder of childhood. The hope is that by appreciating the divine energies in the world around us and fostering a compassionate and empathetic worldview, we can create a better world for ourselves and others.
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    Nature to the Dogs
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Schreiber, Rose; Hopp, Johnathan; McConnell, Walter; Sikora, Linda
    And I suppose you want me to start from the beginning. Although what a beginning is I have no idea. Nebulous concept since we are, and by necessity it seems, located somewhere always in an expanding middle. As well, choosing between one hundred, or a thousand—or perhaps only ten—concrete places to start is more difficult than choosing between some infinity of abstract ones, so I’ve heard at least, so they’ve been telling me. The real being so much more difficult to wrap one’s head around, so-to-speak. And this epistemic conundrum lying, some might say, at the crux of human nature—not that such an asininity exists anyway, I believe on faith. But in any case, I will tell you.
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    Sweet Rot
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) O'Toole, Paige; Hanes, Stephanie; Hopp, Johnathan; McConnell, Walter; Montgomery, Lindsay; Sikora, Linda; Willard, Adero
    Sweet rot is an exploration of duality. The fantasy of allure, desire and grandeur while also capturing a sharp and aggressive sense of discomfort that lives in the handling of the clay. In this work I’ve been thinking about excess — where is the point of too much and is there a point of too much. The work hovers on the line of decadence and decay. Picking at wealth and social classes and how excess in those spaces can become a kind of moral decay. A space where the value of objects and things is more important than people. There is aggression in the way I handle the clay, but at the same time there is a deep admiration, perhaps a longing. I love the way clay responds to touch. It holds the memory of mark like a cast of my hands in motion. There is comfort and control within process that does not live on in the finished work. Nothing about the outward appearance of the work is comfortable. The objects have a cloying play between beauty and grotesque that speaks to the nefarious nature of their inspiration. This body of work is a merging of opposing forces, like when sweetness begins to rot.
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    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Kunz, Sean; Hanes, Stephanie; Hopp, Johnathan; Kelleher, Matt; McConnell, Walter; Montgomery, Lindsay; Sikora, Linda; Willard, Adero
    When I observe these works, I interpret them as three-dimensional drawings, or maps of movement. And I ask myself, what moves like this? A bird in flight, or an insect crawling. A fish, in a school of fish in the sea, or a bee dancing directions to a flower. Do I ever move like this?
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    Time is a Flat Circle
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Brodsky, Jake; Hanes, Stephanie; Hopp, Johnathan; McConnell, Walter; Montgomery, Lindsay; Sikora, Linda; Willard, Adero
    I make pots. I enjoy asking nuanced questions of form as well as big-picture questions of what pots do in our world, but it is the latter which has guided my research this year. My work is rooted in ideas of life, death, and transformation. Ceramics is a time-based medium, and I have been exploring the concept of time in different formats in my work: repetition as a marker of time, time in the context of funerary vessels, the time of visible transformation and melting that happens in the kiln, and time expressed through the drying of wet clay. Things happen linearly in the transformation of clay to ceramic, but from my perspective as a maker, this linear progression, repeated many times, becomes cyclical. There is a rhythm to working in repetition that creates an infinite amount of potential expression.
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    MASHQ (A Practice)
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Ahmad, Javaria; Montgomery, Lindsay; Hopp, Johnathan; Sikora, Linda; Willard, Adero; Hanes, Stephanie; McConnell, Walter
    The everyday labor of homemaking comes with its own joy and pain. This research paper will discuss the everyday life of a South Asian woman (especially in Pakistan) in relation to mundane domestic activities that keep these women going. It will shed light on the widely practiced stereotypical beliefs about women’s lives. Pakistan is a religiously conservative country where gender hierarchy prevails. In traditional households, women are still taught and expected to be submissive and obedient. Such restrictions are often suffocating yet inescapable. Such ideas will be discussed with reference to my own art practice as well as the works of other artists. It is interesting to know that many women around the globe share similar kinds of lives and therefore respond to them through corresponding ideas in art.
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    Involuntary Interludes
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Simental, Sophia; McMahon, Stephanie
    A long exhale, a prolonged glance that shifts out of focus, thoughts of then, now, if, and when. How is it exactly that we perceive? In my paintings, I question how the mind works: how one can experience the space they occupy while simultaneously visualizing a memory or idea. How do the past, present, and future intersect? Is the way we process information today overloaded, and do we need to be distracted? Since the rise of digital technology, humans have been bombarded by information. What was once a passing glance at a newsstand or short phone call to a friend has now become an endless log of scrolling. Humans have less control of what they consume and many are addicted to this retrieval of stimulated words and imagery. Unpacking how this modern way of living is affecting our psyche and reorienting the overlooked qualities of daily life is fundamental to my process. Painting allows me to distill imagery and slowly process the sensations of memory and feeling. Gathering imagery that reflects these ideas is seemingly random, but I consider the location, time, event or mood of each image and what narratives they tell together. Capturing and curating my ideas starts with a camera: the photos are deconstructed through a screen, reformed into gestural colors of memory, and reframed into the viewer’s perspective. I draw from my own experiences but the process of merging and layering images creates an abstraction that allows others to enter through an open-ended narrative. My interest in abstraction has developed from my research in natural distortive phenomena and how it relates to our working brain. How does light affect how we feel? Additional research into perspective, objects and their influence on 3 memories has underlined my process. With these elements in mind, I warp everyday scenery and objects to simulate the surreal sensations of the brain while also exploring elements of motion and time through gesture. Levels of clarity and confusion are explored within the materiality of the oil paint, bringing more significant things into focus. I work in many layers, often thin, with slight variations in color across the surface. The paint is lightly stippled or smooth like liquid, barely existing on the surface, in the same way that memories and thoughts bleed in and out. Up close, the subtle shifts in color and texture can appear without distinction, and perhaps causes the viewer to yearn for more, just like refreshing a page, asking for more stimulation. This sensitivity of the gestural hand counterbalances the digital world and the intangible thought process: the imagery is mostly visible but it is not actually present. What is real and what is not? Unravelling how contemporary society can sometimes feel desolate despite the overwhelming amount of information surrounding us is my central focus. I look for the things that connect us even when we are alone, as how we navigate mental health today is imperative to our future.
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    Conditional Presence
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Spillers, Justin; Powers, Angus; Wheeler, William
    I am fascinated by the function of incomprehensibly complex systems present in ecosystems, neural networks, and civilizations. By designing parameters for generative processes both digital and physical, I bestow inorganic materials/processes with their own organic behaviors, paradoxically placing them between free-willed and predetermined entities. In intentionally futile attempts to model these phenomena, I express these interests as well as explore my frustrations with the methods of observation that are bound by our humanity and social constructs. By writing this paper, I outline my research and explain my artistic practice, a process that distills my thoughts and experiences into words and ironically disarms the very purpose that I create the work that I do.
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    I am to protest through painting
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Chen, Zihao; McMahon, Stephanie
    Personal memory, cultural background, political anxiety, and contradiction are inseparable dialogues in my painting practice. I grew up in Fujian, China and chose to go to the United States and Germany to study art in 2017. My experience living in different countries allowed me to see a more explicit relationship between individuality and art from a completely different cultural and political perspective. Reflecting on my background and the political environment in China has also become an essential part of my art. By exploring, comparing, and accepting foreign cultures and my own, I took the initiative to try new forms of painting. Through material investigation and installation, I discovered how to utilize and address the subversive elements of abstraction. In 2022, a democratic movement called ‘A4 Revolution’ took place in mainland China that caught the world's attention due to covid-19 lockdown restrictions. This historical protest rapidly spread to 16 Chinese major cities. The demonstrators in the parade held A4-size white papers on the street as a symbol of protest against the government's strict “Zero-Covid” and “City Lockdown” policies. I was in the US when I saw this news. This social movement overlapped and intertwined with my works and brought me back to my personal experience of political turmoil. Since then, I have started to consider censorship, authority, and self-liberation as my subject matter in my painting. 3 I approach the presentation of my paintings in an unconventional manner, opting to hang them in open spaces or lay them on the floor, allowing for a more engaged viewing experience. Exploring the materiality of paper has been a crucial aspect of my artistic practice. I have experimented with torn painted papers, handmade papers, and paper pulps, utilizing these materials as three distinct stages to deconstruct and reconstitute information. This approach serves as a visual metaphor for the dismantling and reconstruction of societal, political, and personal ideologies. Through my art, I aim to evoke the tumultuous experiences of individuals in contemporary political environments, particularly in China. My apprehension about censorship and my education have made me hesitant to discuss and write about certain topics. To overcome this, I use the art-making process as a tool to express how power systems have impacted my upbringing. My paintings are a reference of my life experiences and a means by which I learn how to recognize individuality and protest. Through this process, I aim to achieve both external and inner liberation.
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    From Comfort to Contempt: Human made environments, the effects of color and light on the human condition.
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Herron, Katelyn
    The following research is a comparison of observations from my life, academic research, and play with materials to infer how human made environments utilize color and light to influence the human condition in the United States of America. The research pays specific attention to the effects it has upon infants, children, adolescents, and teens as my background in education has been the driving inspiration for my research. Additionally, this drive for material research has yielded three general approaches in her process of manifesting artwork: one found objects; two the imagery of an object; and three art as an experience. All processes utilize traditional and non-traditional materials such as neon, blown glass, cast glass, a variety of objects that can be found at the local American hardware store, and other found objects.
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    Blue Milk and Other Short Stories
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Egnator, Gabrielle; Lambert, Coral; Wheeler, William; Quiñones, Joey
    Blue Milk and Other Short Stories is an exhibition and written thesis that engages in a type of world building or judeo-futurism. Blue Milk is an invented product in an invented world; influenced by the mythology of Techelet or “biblical blue”, the moral fable of the golden calf, the 1971 adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof, and the artist's own fraught relationship with healthcare. These influences and moments of fantasy help develop and question what is considered to be sinful, holy, hurting, and healing.
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    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Azar, Sheyda; Lambert, Coral; Wheeler, William
    Through a pictorial, sculptural, and performative exploration that represents the culmination of my research, I engender a self-transmogrification by linking these aspects to the body’s history and associations in order to reveal its transcendent potential. I base this pursuit on the reframing of traditional Iranian rituals, particularly those relating to cleansing, fire, and acts of self-punishment, while fear, desire, and alchemical processes are manifested in the fabrication of three-dimensional work. This coalesces into a countercultural display of taboo-breaking, unrepressed sexuality, and supposed degeneracy, particularly concerning the expectations and restrictions placed upon myself as a woman.
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    Ceramics in a Liberal Arts Curriculum
    (Alfred University, 1960-12) Leach, Richard, B.
    The philosophy of education has under gone little change since the founding of the college at Harvard in 1636. The aims of the educators have shifted from the general ends proposed, to "…advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity…”, to educate youth in good manners and to emphasize instruction in the arts and sciences so that the student may “…be fitted for publick employment both in Church and in Civil state."* to a more elaborate means to the same end. The persuit of the Liberal Arts has been an attempt by men to discover by free use of intellectual faculties something of the nature and meaning of the universe and man' s place in it as well as the highest values to which human life can aspire. These eternal truths were to be revealed by the study of Rhetoric, which included Latin and Greek grammar and syntax, Logic; and Philosophy or Metaphysics which was, in effect, a course in psychology, sociology, history as well as philosophy. Entrance to college was based on the ability to read Latin verse and prose, and to decline perfectly nouns and verbs in Greek. The chief emphasis of the education was the acquisition of the tools and discipline of logic to the sages past. The two languages were the media for transmitting of the inherited cultural tradition to posterity. Knowledge of Latin and Greek was the key to the understanding and appreciation of a body of History, Science and Philosophy as well as of literary forms which made up the substance of Western Civilization. This Renaissance ideal, coupled with the concepts of duty and discipline of Puritanism, was the ideal of the leaders of American higher education in the seventeenth century.
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    You brought something into the world that does not belong here (and one day you will pay for it).
    (Alfred University, 2023-05) Penc, Tomáš; Lambert, Coral; Wheeler, William; Edizel, Gerar
    I was born and raised in former Czechoslovakia. Having had the experience of living in a totalitarian regime, I see aspects of its grip resurfacing again in the present world, but on a global scale. The apprehension of the possible things to come is reflected in my artwork as it addresses deeper political and existential topics, ridiculous scientific advances, irrational situations, logical inconsistencies and paradoxes of our memory. I am an observer who collects and reflects on these absurdities, I stand in for the individual human and often highlight it with humor. This helps me illustrate how intellectually complicated we have become on one hand yet remain driven by irrational urges and subconscious impulses. The Thesis Exhibition is a free-forming collection of artefacts from an alternative world, a subjective perception of a distorted landscape, which serves to remind us to take ourselves - from the overall point of existence - way less seriously.
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    Beyond Perception
    (2022-05) Zhu, Crane; Scheer, Joseph; Souther, Eric; Chen, Xiaowen
    My thesis consists of several major pieces about a profound experience of encountering an ash tree. The tree is in the Kanakadea Park, in front of Almond Lake, in Hornell. These visiting experiences bring me strength, thinking about life, and these also inspire my creation. I cannot remember the view of the first time I stood beside this tree and looked at the broken sunlight in front of the lake. However, I remember how my stressful heart felt a burst of relief. The relief becomes the beginning of this whole story. It was a moment of peace that brought me back there to be in a daze. After going there several times, I noticed this tree stood alone, just like me. There are no trees around it. Could it be lonely too? It seems well grown. How did it face the flow of time to grow into such a big tree? As if I heard the tree whisper, “Since your life is messed up, and you don’t know how to fix it. why don’t you seek help?”
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    Attritional Yeast
    (2022-05) McLearn, Brady; Hopp, Johnathan; Kelleher, Matt; McConnell, Walter; Sikora, Linda; Willard, Adero
    The following is a supporting document for my ceramic art MFA thesis exhibition in the Turner Gallery at Alfred University in April of 2022. The purpose of this document is to articulate the language that my work uses to communicate my ideas, interests, and experiences. I will describe the actions that are necessary to my process and how the challenges that I have when working with materials offer new insight to what the work will become. I touch on how the work is received and explain ideas embedded in the finished work. I then move into a stream of consciousness and a poem, a list of books and artists that have influenced me in the last two years, as well as a technical section entailing details important to my process. I would like to thank the Alfred University School of Art and Design graduating classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023, the entire ceramic art faculty: Jonathan Hopp, Matt Kelleher, Walter McConnell, Linda Sikora, and Adero Willard; and big thanks to Jenni Sorkin, Meghan Smythe, Wayne Higby, John Gill, Keith Simpson, Shawn Murrey and Hannah Thompsett who all helped me with sound advice and generous support along the way.