Semester of Graduation

Fall 2021

Degree

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

School of Art

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Sulfur and Sage is a body of abstract paintings created out of memories of time spent immersed in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains and the Yellowstone Caldera during the summer of 2020. The paintings reflect specific places, experiences, and insights, which occurred as I sought solitude by returning to the one place where I feel most at peace with the universe – the woods.

Each painting is augmented by a written vignette, describing the occurrence it is based on. Should the viewer choose to include these short stories as they encounter the artwork, they provide the jumping off point and lend context to the pieces through the eyes of the artist. However, the paintings themselves are intended to communicate the portion of the wilderness experience that I cannot write words to describe. They are the embodiment of intense emotional content, derived from the memories of what I have witnessed and how I responded to the often-sublime phenomenon.

The paintings are created using an artistic process planned to mimic many of the forces I observe in nature. The cycle of life and death is embodied in the process of adding, scraping, dissolving, and redistributing the oil paint over and over again. The final aesthetic is intended to convey a distressed or weathered sensation, communicating a parallel with the effects of powerful natural forces. The careful crafting of the paint’s surface, supported by the overall composition, is intended to visually excite the viewer from the macro to the micro, just as one can find beauty in the texture of a single leaf laying in a larger forest.

Committee Chair

Celentano, Denyce

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