Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Aaron Holz

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 Aaron Holz

Lincoln, Nebraska, March 2024

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Copyright 2024, Christy Aggens


I seek out and spend time in relatively wild outdoor locations and create art based on my observations. The resulting work explores time and place, while the creation of the work increases my engagement with the environment. This process serves as a reminder that time is relative and life itself is continuous.

I start by finding time in locations where nature has been given a chance to thrive and where the sound of human activity is at a minimum. During these retreats, I use my senses to absorb information and document the experience by journaling, making recordings, taking photographs, drawing, painting, or a combination of these methods. After returning from the retreat, I allow time for the experience to distill before creating the work.

The studio process prolongs my engagement with the subject. Paintings are typically completed over the course of several days to several weeks, allowing for a variety of working methods. I allow the scale, medium and method to be determined by my current interests and curiosities, while the subject remains grounded in the retreat. The reworking of a painting or a section of a painting can result in multiple variations of the subject.

When immersed in a wild place, it’s easy to imagine that it is a different decade or a different century. I maintain this illusion by deliberately omitting human artifacts in my art, leaving only natural markings of time.

I take comfort in envisioning what might be happening concurrently in those quiet places, and I also reflect on what they might be like in the future, but above all, this thesis exhibition is about engaging with the environment for the purpose of being present, in this time and place.

Advisor: Aaron Holz