Art, Art History and Design, School of




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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 Peter Pinnel Lincoln, Nebraska May, 2010



Elisa N. Di Feo, MFA

University of Nebraska, 2010

Adviser: Peter Pinnell

The word uova is the plural form for “egg,” in Italian. Eggs represent potential for new life and growth, as well as being vessels themselves. Uova, as a word, functions well in the exhibition for the relationship of its sound to the pieces. The sound gives the word a broader sensibility and significance beyond its definition. There are also formal and surface relationships between this work and eggs, including the satin surfaces and rounded curves of the forms.

I have always been attracted to volume, and its potential to entice the viewer to touch. Now, making this work while pregnant, discovering the beauty and possibilities of volume in forms has become more relevant. Using the language of the ceramic vessel and the human body, I combine the changes happening inside and outside of my body with consistent formal interests in my work.

I use subtle curves and oblique lines to create objects for contemplation. By producing a formal experience with interior and exterior space, ideally an emotional response from the viewer results. Often, the work I make is derived from a thought or memory of a functional shape, and maintains a connection to this source by having qualities you might find in a bowl or container. The act of receiving and holding are characteristics of functional pottery that interest me, and I relate them to my current work to share a sense of intimacy and accessibility. The formal characteristics of the work in this exhibition are derived partly from bodies, landscapes, and functional vessels. I have looked to these forms as inspiration because I want this work to simultaneously reflect ideas of comfort, the expansion of space, and containment.

These references offer a visual vocabulary of slight bends and contours, which I use to create spaces for intrigue and thought. The viewer’s response may be similar to various shapes and formations in nature that we cannot quite define, yet attract us with their sense of mystery. Indentations meet with supple bulges to create joints and edges. Where these transitional moments interact on a form, the eye has a place to rest and focus. Quiet, sensual volumes push and pull to produce subtle tension in the form, which emphasizes the sense of containment and areas of visual access.

Soft, muted colors enhance a sense of calm introduced by the forms. The pieces are composed to enliven parts of the objects, with matte surfaces against glossy surfaces, as well as to accentuate the relationship between the surface and the form. I am using muted colors because they allow light to be both absorbed and reflected. The use of complex tints adds to the richness of the pieces, because their sense of depth highlights edges and bulges.

The objects in this show are visual experiences that create a sense of ease to the spaces around them. They feel and sound soft, and excite the desire for a tactile encounter. My work can both embrace and be embraced, and it accesses the full range of that experience.