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 Masters of Fine Arts

Major: Art

Under the Supervision of Professor Martha Horvay


This body of work is an endeavor to explore the connection of form to environment that mirrors my interaction with the external. In painting, I limit means in terms of subject and range of color in order to allow deeper examination of my perceptions. By imposing such external restrictions, a new awareness in painting emerges.

The insistence on the connection of the form to its surroundings is key to the formal and emotional content of the paintings. Form- frequently a chair- is found in relation to the color, intensity, and temperature of space and other forms . In finding incremental transitions of color, I establish a stronger emotional connection to painting. Subtle color variation leads to awareness that in such shifts particularity and simplicity meet. As I explore the evocative potential of color, the situations from which I paint are constructed with a limited color range in order to give priority to transitions in hue and intensity. I experience the abstraction of color; the painting is a record of that abstraction. By establishing such transitions in painting, I find myself moving deeper within a visual realm in which 1 interact more directly with color.

While painting, I recognize the potency of light to reveal form or to make form disappear. A particular light guides color choices that echo my response to the subject. In Corner Space, for instance, the upper part of the chair in the foreground comes close to merging with its connected space, yet, ultimately manifests as a form. At the point in which a color exists on the canvas, subsequent color is determined in relation to my experience with the subject and, more importantly, in relation to the color choices previously applied. I will come closer to the truth of my perceptions only if the color is relational. By giving greater attention to my perceptions of light and to the interaction of color, I better imagine a painting that connects my visual experience with the external.

Despite the re lative simplicity of most of the compositions, effort is required to arrange and rearrange an environment that allows shifts in color to take precedence over the identity offorms. Given the predominance of the lone chair, it is important to note that I find the anthropomorphic qualities of chairs- particularly chairs with which I have lived for long periods- to be compelling. The empty chair leaves a lasting memory of human occupancy. While painting, I am less interested in the chair as an object than its presence and how the environment defines this existence. The paring down of the subject echoes the need to limit formal means. By narrowing my focus, I am better able to reconcile the form's identity with its essential connections to the environment.

In painting, I strive to empathize with a form whose identity is defined- muted or reinforced- by its immediate circumstances. An effort to assimilate the three-dimensional space of my experience, the implied space that develops on the canvas, and the inherent flatness of the two-dimensional surface of the painting is also important in the work. Areas of the paintings that begin to read both as space and as planes parallel with the surface of the painting reveal my connected experience of perception and of painting. Such areas, in which the duality of illusion and flatness coexist, subvert being read as a window into space and identify with the painted surface. In other words, the painting is, finally, a painting.

In earlier works, such as Room at Night , a particular form within space- in this case the red chair- is surrounded by a myriad of other forms. I isolated the form mainly in terms of its placement and proximity to other forms. Separation is more pronounced as shifts in color and value, particularly between forms and space, are more extreme. Identity of form takes precedence.

Perceptions of the interrelationship of form and space now predominate. Pressure of environment and of form mutually impact. I ask in the painting how form might be defined by space and how that form might contribute to giving substance to space. In Dark Chair, I experience the force of the environment and of the standing form . In this painting, more immediately than many of the others, space and form are interdependent; one cannot exist without the other. In painting, I responded to the presence of the space and of the cast shadow; their substance gives greater consequence to the form.

The connection between form , the immediate environment and the pressure of space on form visually mirrors my connection to the process of painting. This search reflects my involvement with outside forces . The painted mark, a direct extension of myself, takes on greater imperative as I use the mark to demand those connections I experience. The mark and its relationship to the color it inhabits are a pivotal discovery in Enclosed Chair. In the later stages of this painting, areas overwrought by complexity and uncertainty are liberated by final bold decisions that culminate from the process of a long search. It was both thrilling and terrifying after having worked on this painting for weeks to have the final marks destroy much that came previously only to reveal what I had been seeking all along. This painting proved an epiphany in which form and space became an intertwined force.

Perception encompasses more than seeing what is before me; rather it involves a synthesis with emotional awareness to something without and with in me. This experience occurs throughout a painting' s evolution . During this process, I begin to imagine how to transform my perceptions into a painting. The final state transcends the literal through the filter of my identity.