Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Santiago Cal

Date of this Version



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 Santiago Cal. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2020

Copyright 2020 Sophia Ruppert


Life leaves behind physical and mental residue. Some of these remnants are precious while others are tragic. Regardless of its origin, this residue can be made beautiful. Remnants of the objects that surround us chronicle our history as complex individuals. My sculptures investigate my own physical and mental residue to dissect and examine my personal history.
I unravel experiences that are residually prominent in my memories. Of particular importance are events and objects that have shaped my perception of self.
stories told by my grandmothers
a dysfunctional family dynamic
objects that provide visual touchstones to my childhood
These fragments are a testimony of personal description. My work attempts to calm the dissonance of these memories and share the resulting narrative. Ultimately, it describes self, history, and a personal theology in transformation. This theology allows me to create beauty in spite of trauma.
My materials are carefully considered and manipulated. By selecting discarded materials that are worn or contain a rich visual association, my work contains an embedded but indirect history.
Objects whisper.
a scrap of stained lace
chandelier fragments
an unrecognizable item

I analyze these objects and either lovingly preserve or thoughtfully dissect and reshape them. One method is a contemplative collection. The other is a rebirth. Both draw out stories embedded within.

The metaphoric act of sewing is central to my work. This craft process harkens back to the traditional idea that women are preservers who mend what is broken. Rather than the gendered practice for domestic use, I reclaim the act of sewing to recontextualize my experiences. I mend what is torn and tear what needs freed. By creating from destruction, I piece together a complex, beautiful history.