Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Francisco Souto

Date of this Version

Spring 5-2021

Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Fine Arts, Major: Art, Under the Supervision of Professor Francisco Souto. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Isaiah Jones


The work in Devastation Experienced When Two Individuals Stop Kissing One Another is an excavation of the private self in relation to love and desire and an exploration of the chaos that ensues in their passage. Desire describes a state of attachment to a person, an object, or an idea. It produces a cloud of optimism between that which is desired and she who is full of desire . It presses against need, the obsessive 1 phenomena of all amorous sentiment, and in its dissolution, total devastation ensues2. With this work, I explore my own desires, observations, uncertainty, and anger, finding ways through the wreckage of a broken heart. Within me is a being that is fearful of love, but so hungry for it. She is an obsessive, aggressive monster, fueled by memory and trauma; a messy product of the events that have unfolded throughout my life. She is also a quiet and longing lover; a hopeful being that sees love between individuals as tangible, reasonable, and possible. The unrelenting aggressor is fearful, monstrous, and self-obsessed, while the quieter, contemplative observer speaks with clarity and reason. I amplify these oppositional forces through printed works, sound, and video installation. Writing is central to my creative practice. The way I sketch an idea, a feeling, or a person, is with written words. It is a fertile process of discovery, like remembering something from more than one angle. A mixture of free writing and crafted written work animate etched plates, outpouring scrolls of text, and kites. The impact of desire and the dissolving of romantic idealizations is embedded in the printed text as I braid narratives and repeat a word or phrase over and over; fleshing out an idea or an experience until I have some new understanding of it. Hasty letterpress work helps me to prototype emerging thought-forms: What if everything I thought about appeared all at once? I work intuitively, generating with careless haste as words and sentences are overprinted, layered, and echoed. The innate, repetitive nature of letterpress printing and the restating of a single word or phrase are highly generative processes. I stand behind the press, clacking the individual pieces together like teeth, moving the rollers back and forth, and as I work, more content bubbles to the surface and is expelled. Using a machine-made wood type, that is condensed, san serif, and set in all caps, is like finding a channel through which my aggressive interior self can move. In an age in which women––particularly in heteronormative situations––are responsible for maintaining the comfort of the individuals within their sphere — using a 3 machine-made type form grants me anonymous authority to excavate interior possessive thoughts and fragmented internal narratives. Scrolls of text, amassed and impulsively arranged and rearranged, feed my internal aggressor, one who is obsessive, combative, and constantly shifting. To counter my inner aggressor, I produced my own set of type that is a character of what my careful interior voice might look like: human, awkwardly spaced, always transparent. This alternative typeface explores desire, lust, and loss in a calmer and less aggressive manner. The handmade typeface speaks in tandem with the machine-made typeface. The two need each other as a dialectic—because the author is the same, but the type is a character. Etchings, which carry a separate narrative, are obscured and ghost-like. My own handwriting is embedded into the surface of a copper plate, then scraped away, leaving behind residual marks. In the removal of marks, lines and scratches accumulate, obscuring the written words. The physical act of scraping away the etched metal is like pretending to forget something that I remember. The harder I try to remove it, the more amplified it becomes. Using sound, I entice the viewer with the intimacy and vulnerability of whispered secrets . In layering multiple whispers on top one another, t 4 he secrets become difficult to understand; I beckon only to push away, distancing the viewer from the power of the legible word5. These works are positioned in proximity to one another, etchings animated by sound, passing whispers conversing with permanent marks. Soaring kites function as moments of clarity within the deluge of interior turmoil. They are objects of hope6, created within the furious regurgitation of interior dialogue. Sending a kite into the air, holding tight to the line, and feeling it move away from my body allows a burden to pass from heavy to light ; an a 7 ct of reconciliation in release. Hand made type and projected video of kites collide within the exhibition space. While the handmade type is fixed in place and rambles on endlessly, the kites move about, offering opportunity for escape, change, and reinvention. The kites are metaphoric of a weight being lifted, clarifying thoughts, and as a voice of reason. My work teeters between cavalier and careful, between aggression and vulnerability. I borrow from my interior self to make sense of what it means to have a heart that is heavy, to be full of desire, and to make sense of the devastation experienced when two individuals stop kissing one another.

Advisor: Francisco Souto

Included in

Printmaking Commons