Title

Family Masks

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Art & Art History

First Advisor

Alex Sweetman

Second Advisor

Melanie Walker

Third Advisor

Deborah Haynes

Abstract

Before there was theory and doctrine there was a story. Stories are an excellent avenue for captivating children of all ages and conveying a message. I grew up listening to stories about my family. As a child, I thought about them as trivial anecdotes. However, today I am more aware of their allegorical significance.

Recently, I have been working with photographs from my grandmother's scrapbook, a photo album my mother and I put together, and my handmade masks. The portraits in these albums come alive when I look at them - I can hear my mother's, father's, and grandmother's voices telling me a story. I can visualize myself in almost every family portrait, the layers of my identity unraveling as I look at these images.

Vernacular photography has been prevalent since the advent of the hand camera. The use of the camera coincides with our desire to record our memories, stories, and traditions: which in-turn become our histories.

This process of collective discovery through individual reflection on the past is a form nostalgia, a longing to return home, a rhetorical home that exists in our minds and heart, one that we do not visit physically but rather mentally and spiritually. Therefore, cultural objects create our home by providing evidence to explain who we are.

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