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 Professors Shelley Fuller and Dave Read


The American Heritage Dictionary defines the relevant terms as follows: Circumstantial: 1. Of, relating to, or dependent on circumstances. 2. Of no primary significance; incidental. 3. Complete and particular; full of detail. 4. Full of ceremonial display. Pomp and circumstance.

Circumstantial evidence: n. Law. Evidence not bearing directly on the fact in dispute but on various attendant circumstances from which the judge or jury might infer the occurrence of the fact in dispute.

Evidence: 1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgement. 2. Something indicative; an outward sign. ~videnced, -dencing, -dences. 1. To indicate • clearly; exemplify or prove. 2. To support by testimony, attest. 3. Plainly visible, to be seen.

I am interested in the photographic implications of these terms.

This work contains evidence collected through the lens of the camera. Its sense of reality and immediacy is an illusion promoted by the detailed rendering capabilities of the mechanical process of photography. The photographs appear factual, but in addition to their representation of the physical world, they reveal the photographer's opinion. As the photographer, I attempt to influence the viewer's interpretation of the image.

The people, who may or may not appear, have created the environments in these photographs. When photographed, these environments seem to offer circumstantial visual evidence about the lives of the people who created them. The objects shown may have been selected and displayed without regard for meaning, or with an intent that is different from the one communicated. I have tried to either emphasize the implied meaning, reinterpret it, or effect a combination of the two.

Places, people and things provide the evidence of their own existence through their depiction. Any conclusions drawn are inferred through the image. While it can be used as a fact-finding medium, photography as art goes beyond the veracity of detailed representation to its underlying symbolic implications. Taking into consideration the dual photographic properties of scientific fact-finding and artistic interpretation, the resulting visual information embodies both knowledge and puzzlement. After arriving at a conclusion, an engaging photograph continues to present unanswerable questions. These are not intended as strictly factual documents, rather, they are personal observations made with an interest in such diverse human qualities as conflict, humor, love, greed, tedium, perseverance and so on. While using the highly subjective elements, poetry and beauty, in conjunction with formal elements such as suspension of time, quality of light, the edges of the frame, rhythm, repetition, emphasis, form, and symbolism, I hope to make images that evoke the layered meanings of the subject at hand. I have attempted to provide insight while leaving behind engaging questions.

This work comprises several interwoven themes. The connecting thread leads through modem western society and its various configurations. Within our social structure, children symbolize the present as well as the future. Their methods of play and interpretation of the adult world are of interest here. As are the houses we live in, the gardens we make, and the products we buy, in general, the ways in which we project our perceived identities. These photographs present details of our lives that are simultaneously mundane and significant. It is a personal view of people interacting with their environments. I am drawn to the contradictions, incongruity, juxtapositions and formal beauty in varying combinations that call into question the meaning of things .