First Advisor

Elizabeth Mead

Term of Graduation

Spring 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)






Conceptual art, Arts, Modern



Physical Description

1 online resource (30 pages)


The paintings, sculpture and digital prints presented for this thesis explore language as a field where sense and non-sense coexist With my focus on the activity of deciphering, both literally and metaphorically, I have examined the play between word as image and image as word. What poetry lies embedded in the strange physicality of familiar graphic marks? What is the pleasure we find, as the poet Robert Pinsky suggests, in language only partly understood?

Following the lead of the Surrealists, who used the camera to investigate the paradoxical notion of reality as a sign, I amassed a collection of newspaper photographs to use as raw material for drawing and painting. The half-tone dot screen of commercial printing became a metaphor for language, and for a time provided me with a system after which to compose field paintings that referenced contemporary artists such as Sigmar Polke and Vija Celmins. This work, the Reading and Writing Series, moved from the purely visual code of filtered photographic images, transferred by hand and painted on wooden panels, to an examination of the vagaries of text itself.

Having traveled from image to word, I endeavored to bring them together in a further series of paintings based on newspaper photographs of texts that contained culturally significant information. The Document Series paintings were conceived as system paintings similar to the Reading and Writing Series. These paintings, however, each mapped a different territory.

As my working method broadened, I began to spatially explore the concept of "the book." Using found text and found objects, I made a series of three-dimensional tableaux meant to posit language as a doorway between the inner cognitive realm and external reality. The final site for this investigation became the dream. Here I have stopped to consider the text as a collection of keepsakes, the reader as a dreamer and the abstract beauty of common codes.


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