Art, Art History and Design, School of


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 Gail Kendall


Significant portions of my life have been spent in the wilderness of Nothern Canada. These experiences such as hiking, exploring, and prospecting, that began in early childhood created in me a profound respect and concern for the wilderness environment. I scek to capture and express this "sense of place" in my work. In the last th ree years visits to this region of Canada, or to any wilderness area, for that matter, have been minimal. This absence has created a drive within mc to employ memory, perhaps idealized, as source material in this ceramic sculpture. A demanding and labor -intensive way of constructing ceramic sculpture is a significant aspect of my work, to the point of becoming part of the content of each piece. Clay is a malleable, immediate, responsive material and several methods are used when creating the work. I begin by mixing thousands of pounds of clay and then throwing and smashing large hunks of it into a solid mound. Then in a very vigorous, physical manner I form pieces by slashing, cutting away, slicing, folding, tearing and pounding the clay. Working from a solid mass is not common in my field , in that much ceramic sculpture demonstrates techniques commonly associated with the vessel making such as slabs, coils, slump of drape molds. In part, the physical demands involved in the studio, stands in for the many ways I have engaged with the wilderness environment over the years. Although 'proccss as content' is improtant in this sculpture, other ideas drive my studio efforts as well. This exhibition presents the results of an investigation into ideas of depiction in the natural landscape. The transformations that occur·within the natural environment from effects such as wind and water crosion alter the landscape: precarious rocks, snowdrifts and crevasses may result. I am interested in the ways in which 'depletion' and ‘erosion' in the landscape refer to the processes and events that are a part of our human lives. The environmental activist David Suzuki says; "The natural environment informs us about what it means to be human. We can only gain a tho rough sense of our human identity in thc face of our own limitations ..... through comparisons with non human entities." Most of us exist in an environment that is rcmoved from the wilderness. Susan Clayton states, "The degradation of this human dcpcndcnce on nature brings the increased likelihood of a deprived and diminished existence. Much of the human search for a coherent and fulfilling existence is intimately depcndent upon our relationship to nature."' The wilderness landscape has had a profound effect on my creative work and detachment from the wilderness has created a need to make work in response to this separation .