Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Santiago Cal

Date of this Version

Spring 4-8-2021


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, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Matthew Carlson


Susan Sontag wrote: “Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other space”.

This work addresses aspects of that citizenship. I used my experiences as a person living with a disability and as a parent to a son with Autism to explore the dichotomy of this dual citizenship. The contentment that comes with feeling well contrasted with the worry of what is to come in the next minute/day/week/month/year. I aim to draw attention to the aspects of living that are not recognized as events impacting our daily lives. The elements that are unseen: the hurt, the worry, the anxiety, and the ritual.

I made the work of Tomorrow is the Worst Day Since Yesterday to question structures and examine the role of systems as a method of understanding and navigation. The emphasis in the drawings is placed on the process that creates the work, rather than the final product itself. The sculptures are more than simply objects to be viewed and become something that a person experiences. The art is a result of the interaction between me as the artist and those that interact with it. All of the parties involved bring their own physical, mental, and cultural mechanisms to the experience. The work is intended to provoke questions, empathy, curiosity and a desire to understand.

Advisor: Santiago Cal