Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Matthew Sontheimer

Date of this Version


Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Fine Arts, Major: Art, Under the Supervision of Professor Matthew Sontheimer. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2019

Copyright 2019 Erik Daniel White


I attentively paint hastily formed figures, symbols, objects, and scenes that were modeled with never-dry clay onto stretched canvases of various sizes. I paint the malleable character of the clay by depicting its bumps, marks and dents, which emphasizes the fragility, impermanence, and the physical construction of the forms. Those visual attributes serve as a metaphor for the social construction of the concepts within the chosen imagery. To create my images I build clay up and physically move it around—in a similar way, ideas and concepts get built up, manipulated, and changed over time. These paintings serve as a cultural critique and a meditation on some of America’s attitudes towards the environment, food consumption, peace, liberty, tax policies, religion, and our obsession with competition. Many of these ideas converge and relate with and inform one another. This selection is not comprehensive of every American attitude and because of its evolving nature this is not an end to a project but a beginning.

Adviser: Matthew Sontheimer

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