First Advisor

Susan Harlan

Term of Graduation

Spring 1997

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Painting






Mark Richardson Smith, Minimal art, Conceptual art, Modern painting -- 20th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, 30 pages)


The practice of Systemic Art was first introduced under the pretext of Minimal/Conceptual art processes in the 1960s, which incorporated the presentation of empty gridded armatures and self-referential charts, (termed non-relational arrangement) as a means of democratizing esthetic content. Systemic objects stressed industrial fabrication and materials m their manufacture over traditional notions of individualized craft, with the intent to demystify the role of the artist in the creative process. For those reasons, systemic practice has remained highly influential among artists concerned with the public context of aesthetics, although its recent applications have gravitated towards incorporation of disparate materials and representational symbols. With a similar concern for its public context, the exhibition on which this discussion focuses, utilizes gridded formats in combination with discreet materials approaches to individual works that specifically locate the art object's origin within pragmatic and vernacular sources. Those materials include: plastic, recycled newspapers, clipped consumer images, printed fabrics, whole articles of clothing and collected organic substances, arranged in the respective artworks to suggest a sequential reading of the materials evolution, progressing from artificial to natural realms. As symbols connotative of culturally established systems of order, the artwork's gridded formats parallel that materials evolution, becoming ever more fragmented and ultimately dissolute as the images lead to the appearance of organic disarray. With an interest in leveling cultural hierarchies, organic processes are brought into context here as a codifying system with which to frame the competing legal, financial, sexual or moral codes of given societies: under the influence of nature, all institutions are subject to obsolescence and decay. To underscore its collective philosophy, this exhibition embraces popular iconography in the belief that its public persona will provide an accessible avenue to private experience, which is still the underlying basis for the realization of the work. In the absence of rendered imagery and individualized markings, private experience is communicated here, through the prevalence of touch as demonstrated through intensive labor practices in the collection and handling of materials.


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