Portland State College. Department of Art
Date of Award
Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in Art
1 online resource (3, 19 leaves)
Creation (Literary -- artistic -- etc.), Symbolism in art
The corpus of this thesis study consists of a group of monoprints and paintings as well as a written commentary intended as their accompaniment. The investigation of such a topic as Birth and Rebirth has involved a concern with the existence of symbology meaningful to the topic. The term culture can be clarified to mean both the artist in particular as well as culture in a collective sense. The possibilities of the topic semantically would involve an essayist’s approach. This thesis is not a pictorial essay. Birth and Rebirth as terms evoke images which a painter can simply treat as subject matter. It has not been my intention to deal with existing images in a way which would succeed in documenting them in paint. However, for the purposes of the thesis problem, it is absolutely necessary to investigate in terms other than visual. The subject which insistently recurred in my painting, and once perceived there, in my thought, was the archaic cradle of man, the cave. Within this setting the ritual - and the role of the Shaman -suggested the power of the initial confrontation of object by man. The force of this impact is not diminished for the viewer today. The visual impact of the ancient tool or weapon can elicit a strong response from the contemporary viewer, but in ways removed in time from the ancient context. A study of such relics thus resulted in a conception of a primordial frame of reference which enables me to participate as a painter in the origins of our culture. The thesis will investigate the specific imageries of Birth and Rebirth in relation to the heritage and accretions of a culture in relation to the way these cultural symbols are now relative to the needs of this painter and utilized by her. During the activity of painting my state will often parallel that of the child scrutinizing a stick or a stone, experiencing their qualities directly. As an adult, finally I am more aware of the effects of the mediating screen of verbiage. If I can experience painting with the impact of this child, my ability to express in paint will rival the impact made by the timeless artifact. In investigating the relation of symbology to the subject matter the degree to which representationalism was negated in favor of relative abstraction was also important. Subject matter, that is, that which has pretentions toward being highly representational, involves a commitment to correspondence with the phenomenalogical world. As such it has trappings which interfere with its apprehension on abstract terms, a condition necessary to the positing of a freshly meaningful symbol. The ideal freedom which is possible for the relatively abstract painting lies in the multiplicity of meaning thereby possible for the artist and viewer. It is too easy to view the world as an accretion of matter; and think of painting as its imitation in pigment. Therefore a movement toward abstraction is deemed necessary and forms come to symbolize a simple organic state akin to “stick”. Composition was simplified to permit this greater range of interpretation – the spatial content being the inorganic world ground of “stone”. This intention toward abstraction further reinforces the larger context of the primordial and the necessity of a direct apprehension of the artist’s interaction with her painting elements as if to the direct qualities of the proverbial stick and stone.
Foss, Roberta, "Birth and rebirth as a cultural symbol" (1967). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 459.