Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Aaron Holz

Date of this Version



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 2009

Copyright 2009 Shane Haley


Palomar is one of the oldest observatories in the United States with one of the largest telescopes built; Thousands visit Mount Palomar each year to stare through a lens and get a glimpse of distant constellations and to view what is beyond unaided vision. For me, this physical observatory is a perfect metaphor for the intemal Palomar I have created. Palomar is not just a location on a map or a building on a mountaintop. Palomar is a place of quiet contemplation where I go to connect with all that is good in life. It is where the tangible meets the intangible. My visions are not of distant stellar objects but of constellations within. I convert them to graphite and place them on paper for others to contemplate. My current work is a study of tree-like forms rendered in a gradient with a stark white background. On these forms, I create unique, meticulous, pattems and textures that reference nature. Pattem is a major part of my work as evident in the treatment of each structure. The surface of each tree is covered with shapes and lines that have an obsessive man-made quality but seem to make sense in the context of nature. I choose not to use a ruler or compass to produce a more exact line but instead want to show, or perhaps expose, the perfect flaws found in freehand drawings. I use graphite because it offers a value and range that works best with the subject and makes the scale of the work possible. I like the simplicity and materiality of graphite as well as its long history . My approach to work is a direct result of structure both extemally enforced and intemallyimposed. This includes time I worked as a teacher and time spent in the setting of the Air force and reflects my own desire to create order and make sense of the world around me. Spending time in the highly structured environment of the military, where everything has a place and time with little left to chance has taught me to organize and restructure my time, my thoughts and my physical surroundings. My artistic thoughts are just as planned and structured as the drills we ran in basic training or the classes I teach. I seek out order in chaos. I build structure where there is none. I organize and categorize the organic. I use line to control the viewer's gaze. I use grids and pattems to enforce order. The grid created by the frame offers a cropping and control to the viewer. The window-like frames separate the viewer form the work and add an element of protection and comfort to the experience. Palomar is a place of order. I try to plan every detail on every image. The white spaces are just as important to me as the drawn image. There is no scrap or useless material in my work. Everything has a predetermined use or purpose. That being said, the real subject for me is not a tree or bark but what I feel about them. I am not interested in drawing the perfect rendering of a tree or a photographic description of the real world. I want to explore what is beyond the reach of realism but still in the realm of possible. Like looking through a telescope, I want my work to magnify the world beyond reach. I want others to experience The Constellations of Palomar.