Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

by Bailey, Alex, M.F.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2019, 46; 13877724
Abstract (Summary)

Within my artistic practice I use mixed media to address the concept of trauma, specifically its transformative qualities, by presenting notions of strength, the correlation of damage and repair, and the act of mending. Combining the softness of textiles with the rigidity of clay in this work presents creative opportunities for depicting the negative and gruesome aspects of physical traumas that are often concealed or ignored. I am able to subvert these more disturbing subjects by converting them into enticing focal points, essentially freezing physical and emotional wounds in time, reframing and reclaiming them as indicators of the process of transformation and all stages of healing.

Many of my works consider the psychology of trauma and suffering, expressly focusing on how lived experience is part of an individual, no matter the phase of one’s own metamorphosis. Other works point to more observable traces or visible manifestations of trauma, like a bruise or a scar. Manifesting trauma in multiple ways allows my work to individually resonate with viewers, who are presented with the latitude to enter into the work from a familiar place, despite coming from different experiences.

When working with clay, I explicitly hand build vessels using porcelain, a method which highlights my appreciation for the intimacy of the material. Porcelain signifies my interest in the female body’s characteristics of softness, resiliency, and memory. The micro-structure of porcelain remembers actions of manipulation similar to the body. Structuring voluminous sculptures with subtle curves finished with organ- and flesh-like hues evokes our own physical being. In this regard, viewers can relate forms to the interior body, or perceive the exterior body in its many visceral tones. Additionally, layers of pliable and translucent textiles are used to reflect and enhance ideas of skin and speak to the impression of what lies upon and beneath its surface. In harmony with clay, soft and hard textile elements communicate resiliency and affect, and engage the contradiction of conceal/reveal regarding the intimate narratives surrounding trauma.

Anonymity is often preferred over a specific narrative, and many viewers prefer to engage with artwork that asks questions rather than artwork that strives for the answers. Through continued research and creative practice, I actively search for ways in which my pieces can not only initiate conversations rather than expelling a detailed story in its entirety, but evolve into a greater discourse between materials, maker, and viewers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Page, Joseph
Commitee: Brown, Steve, Dresang, Paul, Page, Joseph, Strand, Laura
School: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Department: Art Studio
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 58/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Fine arts
Keywords: Ceramics, Mixed media, Textiles, Transformation, Trauma
Publication Number: 13877724
ISBN: 978-1-392-25913-9
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