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 Martha Horvay


The art of painting, as I practice it, is analogous to reevaluating tradition: the purpose being not to determine what is new but to determine anew what is truly relevant. The history of art affects my perception and that which I see celebrates what I find relevant to the present. I have always worked from direct observation. In an art climate that has moved toward conceptual concerns, my response is to explore the perceptual paradigm of western art, without invalidating its tradition. My paintings are a direct response to my environment. In making such work I communicate the significance of my 'being' and the human need to be empirically aware. The work in this exhibition was completed in several different studios that I have occupied while a graduate student at UNL. A significant change occurred in the visual language of my paintings with each move and in the consequent struggle to respond to a new environment. One studio was dominated by a monumental row of cabinets. The narrowness of this room did not allow me to distance myself sufficiently from the cabinets to see them in their entirety. Cropping the cabinets or viewing them from an oblique angle did not convey their monumentality. In painting Studio #4 I was forced by the situation to adopt a shifting point of view in order to express my emotional experience of the subject. Another studio with windows that faced a large expanse of red tiled roof possessed a surprisingly warm ambient light, which strongly effected colors in shade and allowed me to compose fully lit areas with warm colors of great intensity, as in Red Chair. In Studio with Red Floor I confronted an architectural color, which while unobtrusive in small quantities, dominated the space with its expanse. To express the power that the color of this floor exerts on other forms I needed to increase the depth of space in my painting and remove forms with high value contrast. While the character of e· my responses provides a common element in this body of work the formal attributes of individual paintings are distinctly different. I value the ability of hand-made marks to reveal thought processes more than I value the pictorial effect of the finished product. Marks made during an early conception of the painting are frequently allowed to remain and, in contrast with later marks, reveal the progression of my visual inquiry. Verisimilitude and detail are not my goals but occasionally occur as a result of visually orienting myself with my surroundings. I seek to reveal visual consciousness on a quest for understanding. Faithfulness to larger perceptions causes me to rework forms even if particular passages are successfully realized. It is a paradox that greater fidelity to relational equivalents of perception results in a more abstract formulation in painting. I seek a formal unity in painting that is dependent on qualities that must be discovered during the process and can not be envisioned beforehand. In short I seek truth, something with the authority of poetry that is not open to questioning, as is mere knowledge. At the moment of perception, I am conscious of what I already understand, yet push myself deeper within the visual experience of nature to expose that which has previously been hidden from me. Perception is a cognitive as well as visual activity; it is a form of visual awareness that embodies a critique of tradition while remaining unique to the individual. The impetus for all of my paintings is my desire to find visual surprises in my subject and on my canvases and then to produce works that allow those elements to remain surprising to the viewer. I experience a deepening of understanding that follows being surprised. I have come to find that art, conceived of as a discipline, is not restrictive. Rather, in my study of painting possibilities expand as I push myself to see with greater sensitivity. The resulting formulation of such activity, in the form of a painting, is limited only by my imagination. I conceive of the study of nature as an imaginative pursuit. By asserting the subjective character of knowledge and of seeing, I emphasize the importance of self-differentiation. Only by being secure of my identity may I participate fully with my environment. I understand the world in relation to what is unique to myself, yet I acknowledge my desire for visual communication.