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Master's Theses (Art & Design)

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  1. disPOSSESSION [Download]

    Title: disPOSSESSION
    Creator: Miriam Rudolph
    Description: disPOSSESSION is a body of work that explores the accumulation of wealth of few and the displacement of many with a focus on the expansion of soy and beef production, ensuing environmental, social, and economic consequences, as well as connected indigenous land rights and peasant food sovereignty issues. In my artworks, I explore the disappearance of the dry forests of the Paraguayan Chaco due to deforestation, the idea of enclosure as a symbol of privatization and capitalist systems, the struggle to maintain diversity through seed saving traditions in the face of expanding monocultures, and the displacement of local populations due to land grabs. While my research and imagery pertain to a specific region in South America, the issues I address are global issues and also lend themselves to comparison with Canada's – and other countries' - colonial heritage and agricultural practices.
    Subjects: Contemporary Printmaking, Intaglio, Copper Etching, Chine-Colle, Installation, Soy Production, Agribusiness, Food Sovereignty, Seed Saving, Migration, Dispossession, Enclosure, Landless Peasants, Indigenous Land Rights, Paraguay, Chaco, Cattle Ranching, Deforestation, Sustainability
    Date Created: 2017/02/22
  2. Obscura [Download]

    Title: Obscura
    Creator: Angela Snieder
    Description: How can we think about the relationship between physical and psychological spaces? Obscura explores the possibility that the intersection of the two can foster deeply contemplative experiences, and enable attentive and empathetic consideration of our relationship with the world. The works in the exhibition propose that illusion and artifice contribute to both our experiences of space and their conceptualization. Since their invention, photographic impressions have possessed an evidentiary power due to their indexical relationship with the physical world. Based in various photographic forms, Obscura prompts a negotiation of reality and its representations that calls into question the truthfulness of photography. The prints and camera obscura installation in the exhibition make use of the mimetic relationship inherent to photography, with the hope of drawing attention not only to the photograph’s capacity for deception, but also to the elusiveness of perception and memory. I ask viewers what it means to discern reality from illusion and to consider the liminal space where these seemingly disparate notions overlap. Throughout the works, photographic textures and surfaces of natural materials offer a sense of familiarity, recalling physical spaces such as mineshafts, caves, undergrowth or mountains. In the series of photopolymer prints, recurrent areas of darkness conceal vast portions of images, rendering access impossible. Incongruities in scale and subject matter unsettle the scenes and allude to their artifice. The represented spaces reference built structures but exist in a state of transformation, reclaimed by natural materials and processes. Enclosed and potentially claustrophobic, the images suggest a sense of solitude and of silent, individual encounter with things. These dream-like scenes serve to explore an ‘in-betweenness’; spaces of both protection and entrapment, of natural and built, of fascination and fear. They are settings in which something is on the verge of taking place. The camera obscura installation portrays illuminated spaces projected through small apertures onto the walls of a darkened room. The projections follow the same laws of optics that are the foundation of the fixed photograph. Whereas historically the camera obscura projected an image of the external world (reversed and inverted), the devices in the exhibition reveal fabricated spaces. I am interested in the role of illusion in the printed and projected scenes. What is happening in the shifting moment when the eye catches on to the trick; and how does the knowledge of this conspiracy alter the experience of the image and of the illusion? Material clues such as corrugation will eventually lead to some understanding of the works’ construction, but the feeling of certainty comes in and out of focus, as sand pours through a ceiling or an illuminated fog floats in a snow filled room. This fluctuation invites heightened attention and opportunities for curiosity and surprise, prompting an examination of the nature of perception and our relationship with physical space.
    Subjects: Printmaking, Fine art, Photopolymer, Photography, Camera Obscura, Projection, Diorama , Chine collé, Digital print, Psychological space, Perception, Optics, Artifice, Illusion
    Date Created: 2017/02/21
  3. 'mingled with all kinds of colours' [Download]

    Title: 'mingled with all kinds of colours'
    Creator: Adrian Emberley
    Description: My work is about the exploration of everyday-life, colour and the imagination. Making paintings is my way of understanding the dynamic and ever-changing sociological, cultural, and digital fabric of North American society. My practice involves creating a poetic network of images that utilize a range of styles to create representations reflecting my own experience through ‘the everyday.’ The everyday can be as simple as looking at a pair of running shoes or looking at the sunlight as it moves across the snow. But the everyday is also about the patterns and rhythms that unfold and exist in the activities and social spaces we move through and inhabit. For instance, the painting titled ‘looking into the commemorative water fountain at ground zero, NYC’, points to the complex relationships that have developed across large parts of the planet, which continue to have significant consequences for how governments behave and how communities deal with important issues that address their personal and social lives. My work investigates both representational and abstract forms of painting. To be more specific, I am interested in the connections and meaning I find between nature, observed reality and abstraction. I explore these aspects of my practice with colour, line, form, shape, scale and materials. I often use photographs with the intention of re-interpreting the photograph using colour, scale and medium. An example, is the painting titled ‘a group of young women looking at a sculpture with docent outside the institute of contemporary art, Boston. In the painting, is a group of figures and patterns of form and colour. The use of colour and form moves the eye across the surface, rather than using line and perspective. The composition is also off-centre which creates further movement. The paintings with ‘Jenny and Jasper’ are inspired by my interest in the imagination and finding a way to make a visual narrative about social and cultural issues. In many paintings Jenny and Jasper are in their vehicle, driving along and observing the world outside their window. The background in these works often depicts abstract spaces that I have made intuitively, using line and colour. In the work ‘driving around the garden of cupid and psyche’ Jenny and Jasper are seen driving around a space full of colour and movement. I like the idea that Jenny and Jasper are living in a virtual universe. Along with the Jenny and Jasper paintings, I pursued my interest in representation, and the use of paint, colour, and photography. I select photographs to paint based on their composition and content. An example is the painting, ‘mother and daughter standing in front of an installation at the metropolitan museum of art, NYC.’ In this work, we see through the eyes of the mother and daughter who are looking at an image. We also are looking at a painting - an image. The image seems to pose a question about the value and the role of the art object: what is it the viewer wants or desires to see? The use of colour throughout the paintings has to do with colour’s lack of definition. Colour allows the painter and the viewer to expand their relationship to what they see, to use their imagination, to see further possibilities. Through colour, beauty becomes more than just an object or entity but a way of interacting and seeing other things. The painting ‘swatches’ focuses on colour and materiality, both in the painting itself and as the subject of the painting. The image is taken from a photograph I took of a panel of swatches during my visit to the Jewish Museum (NYC) to see an exhibition of haute-couture fashion. The swatches are part of not only a complex global industry but have a role in the creative process of fashion design. The intention of my painting it is to evoke a sense of being and agency. The imagination is necessary part of this because it’s a space of play. Through my art, I hope to spark the imagination of the viewer, to see and perceive what is happening in their surroundings, to derive meaning, and to see how things can change, to move forward. Adrian Emberley
    Subjects: Painting, MFA Thesis, colour, everyday life, abstraction, representation, sense of place, photography, Art Practice, creativity
    Date Created: 2017/01/16
  4. Transforming the Homeless Counting Process: Mapping and Re-Designing Systems and Experiences Through Service Design [Download]

    Title: Transforming the Homeless Counting Process: Mapping and Re-Designing Systems and Experiences Through Service Design
    Creator: Devaki Joshi
    Description: Homelessness is a significant issue that has raised a variety of social and economic challenges in Canada and many other countries. This Master of Design research focused on redesigning the homeless counting process in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It focuses on count volunteers' perspectives and takes into account their relationships with other stakeholders. Through mapping and interrogating the current homeless counting process issues were identified amongst the participants involved. The design response to this research employs a service design approach and involves recommendations to improve the homeless count process, a redesign of the forms used in 2014, and the design of a digital application for collecting surveys.
    Subjects: Service Design, Transformation Design, Homelessness, Homeless Count, Journey Mapping, Design Thinking, Qualitative Research, One-on-One Interviews, Design Systems, User Experience Design, User Interface Design, Personas, Affinity Mapping, Prototyping
    Date Created: 2016/12/5
  5. Playing with Fire [Download]

    Title: Playing with Fire
    Creator: Megan
    Description: This body of work began initially with my interest in YouTube videos of people performing dangerous stunts and often hurting themselves in the process. Why would a person knowingly put their health and safety, or even their lives at risk without necessity and seemingly little to gain, and how do others (viewers) react to this behaviour? I feel guilt when watching these performances, but I am interested in the relationship between the performer and the viewer, which seem to evoke a kind of a sick pleasure for both sides. This type of behaviour is in many ways uniquely contemporary as many people would not engage in these behaviours without an audience, and with modern technology finding an audience has never been easier. Although I am exploring a contemporary phenomena related to recent social media trends, the subject matter of my work is also linked both stylistically and thematically to an older tradition of Expressionism in painting through how I present the world from a subjective perspective, distorting it in order to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality. The themes in my work also have links to literary works such as Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground. Particularly relevant is the idea that contrary to logic, people do not always act in their own best interests, and that suffering can be enjoyable, particularly when you're conscious of it, and it can be enjoyable to cause others to suffer as well. Suffering and consciousness are linked, man will never give up suffering, and will purposely cause himself pain to prove that he's free to do so since man needs to be conscious to have his free will. My goal as a painter is to create works that are striking and compelling both in form and subject matter, affecting viewers emotionally and leaving space for contemplation. With these goals in mind, ambiguity plays an essential role in my work. My paintings are narrative and cinematic - like one image cut from a film, they engage the imagination of the viewer who then completes the picture as a site of synthesis or resolution. In many of the works, I am portraying the tension of the moment when something horrible is about to happen. In some, it is unclear if the figures are willing participants in an event, or they are trapped in a violent and tragic situation from which they cannot escape. This taps into contemporary anxiety; no matter what choices we might make, we could still end up in a horrible situation beyond our control as the result of poor choices by others, or by simple bad luck.
    Subjects: MFA in Painting, Painting, Art, Colour, Risky Stunts, Expressionism, Dostoyevsky, YouTube Video , Contemporary Painting, Danger
    Date Created: December 8, 2016
  6. Poetic Space [Download]

    Title: Poetic Space
    Creator: Andrew C. Hellmund
    Description: My sculptures encourage the viewer to project their own experiences onto the work, to question the facts of visual existence with the engagement of movement, form, and texture. While I draw immense inspiration from Swing dance, Jazz music, Cubist forms, and Modernist Sculpture (including works by Peter Hide, Rob Willms, and Sir Anthony Caro), I ultimately create sculpture to explore ideas of perspective, exuberance, and hope, movement and space. I believe that my work with recycled materials has the potential to uplift and inspire. My hope is that through these forms and vivid ideas, expressed in three-dimensional space, we are able to learn from, be inspired by, and begin to re-examine our existing ideals of spaces and community and how we inhabit them. My work is strongly influenced by Lindy Hop or Swing dancing. The dance originated as a form of free expression by African Americans in the 1920s in New York City at the Savoy Ballroom, the only mixed dance hall at that time in the United States. It is this freedom in form and expression that draws my interest. Jazz music is integral to the experience and creates a visual poetry, which is only possible as a result of hearing the rhythm and music. The spaces and forms created by moving dancers, either in pairs or solo, fuel my sculptural strivings to express movement. Swing dance exudes a spontaneity of expression that is similar to my intuitive sculpture process. In dance, as you get better you start to understand the relationships between the moves and which moves work more seamlessly together or create a reaction or response by following each other. Similarly in sculpture, there are visual principles and techniques to help the visual experience. By knowing this information, the improvisor is able to create educated works. Just as each dance is original, with influences from your partner or response to what is happening on the floor, each sculpture responds to forms and connectivity seen between the dancing forms. A certain call and response happens in both creative practices. There is historical precedent for exploring and expressing movement through art. I have been especially drawn to Edgar Degas’s work—the emotion, energy and movement within his ballet dancers, expressed in his paintings. His sculptures capture a moment full of dynamic and powerful gesture, expressed through graceful and powerful forms.
    Subjects: sculpture, abstract art, formalism, modernism, steel sculpture, peter hide, anthony caro, david smith, swing dance sculpture
    Date Created: 2106/06/07
  7. Carving out a future with a flint and an axe [Download]

    Title: Carving out a future with a flint and an axe
    Creator: Jonathan S. Green
    Description: My current research is focused on the history of camping and wilderness survival. Specifically, I am exploring how our ideas about the landscape are constructed, and what it means when we interact with the wild by engaging in activities like camping. My recent mixed-media prints combine my own documentation of the so-called ‘wilderness’, with appropriated images from historical exploration documents, survival books, and online images of wild landscapes. These are merged with constructions of campsites and temporary shelters, which stand in for both real and imagined human experience. It is not always evident whether the shelters I have depicted are occupied, or if they are relics, abandoned. These campsites, and their accompanying landscapes, have become what Robert MacFarlane has described as a “site of contest” between humanity and nature (“Eeriness: Tracing an Unquiet Tradition in British Landscape Art, Momus, April 2016). The tension is intensified in today’s Anthropocenic age of global ecological crisis. My finished printworks are rarely entirely accurate in respect to the geographic, geological, or biological reality of the landscapes but, rather, reflect changing cultural ideas of the landscape. This creates a juxtaposition between the actual and the ‘romantic’ landscape. My prints (and print-structures) also contain photographic elements combined with hand drawn elements: the documentary with the speculative, the imagined with the actual. I also use a subtle dark humour to expose the ironies in our notions of the wilderness. My method of collage, and my use of found objects, is intended to mirror our cultural construction of wilderness and reflects how we, as a society, build and break meaning depending on the various elements involved in the context of its use. The provisional feel of my work – it’s DIY aesthetic – is meant to make the prints, the materials, and our idea of the wilderness feel familiar. My goal is to create an uneasy, eerie, and dangerous view of the landscape where our historical past must be reconciled with our contemporary desires to experience the landscape.
    Subjects: wilderness, printmaking, camp, architecture, shelters, anthropocene, Christo, mountains, Robert MacFarlane, William Cronon, Charlie Hailey, MFA thesis, Nicola Lopez, landscape
    Date Created: 2016/06/14
  8. Neuromantic [Download]

    Title: Neuromantic
    Creator: Adam Slusar
    Description: My paintings have a narrative element in the sense that I use symbolism, references to popular culture, and figures that are staged within expressionistic allegorical spaces. These spaces are visualized as a stage or film set in order to evoke a sense of cinematic storytelling, and the architecture is often exaggerated as a means of conveying an otherworldly realm that exists outside of our world. These paintings use symbols to communicate themes such as destabilization, escapism, and social progress while also maintaining a sense of abstraction and ambiguity within the picture plane. Figures are added in order to add a human component to the work, furthering the overall narrative quality of the paintings. Contrasting notions of progress, ambition, and desire with disconnection and anachronism, my work is about how we construct and engage with our reality.
    Subjects: Painting, neuromantic, 20th century, British new wave, film noir, abstraction, architecture, narrative, Jesse Thomas supervisor, contemporary, new leipzig school, collage, technology
    Date Created: 6/24/2016
  9. Mass Customization of Medical Devices for Quality of Life [Download]

    Title: Mass Customization of Medical Devices for Quality of Life
    Creator: McKertcher, Adam
    Description: Healthcare is an inherently risky sector for innovation. In particular, breakthrough innovations pose an even greater risk for investment and potential consequences for the end user. These factors make the healthcare sector inherently risk averse, resulting in medical devices that become outdated. This research highlights the maker movement as an opportunity to reevaluate how medical devices are perceived, and presents Quality of Life as a factor to focus on in order to encourage breakthrough innovation. By employing tools of the maker movement, and designing a new business model using a lean approach, this research assess new technologies as a way of empowering medical device users to take ownership of their devices. The final design project for this thesis involves a custom sit-ski, which would disrupt the traditional methods for building and distributing custom sit-skis and athletic wheelchairs.
    Subjects: 3D Printing, Rapid Prototyping, Mass Customization, Emotional Durability, Ergonomics, The Maker Movement, Business Model Canvas, Lean Startup, Industrial Design, Strategic Design
    Date Created: 2016/01/11
  10. From the Surface [Download]

    Title: From the Surface
    Creator: Morgan Wedderspoon
    Description: From the Surface is an exhibition haunted by the presence of the global ecological crisis. As I implicate the viewer in a web of associations between word, image, and thing, I invite contemplation of our place in a changing world. I seek to unsettle the comfortable illusion that humanity is separate from nature, exploring instead the anxiety of being inextricably embedded in a context that is radically and unwittingly being transformed by our own hands. Through a chance-based practice of found-object collection and display, I search for unforeseen materials gathered from the ground to participate as subjects in my work. The resulting collection is an assortment of artifact-like objects, many which were formerly overlooked, discarded, or forgotten. More specifically, they are fragments – worn pieces of things that have broken down and dispersed, travelling across unknown distances. The gesture of collecting marks a momentary acknowledgement of coexistence between humans and things within the context of unfolding ecological crisis. As a group, the objects act as a humble reminder of that context, in which the dream of human dominion over nature is called into question. In a broad sense, my collecting practice addresses the tension between the urge to try to exert control over the material world and a sense of being caught under its spell. Using printmaking, I highlight the potential for unexpected relationships between the objects, bringing them into new formal associations and exchanges. By displaying the objects themselves alongside the prints that derive from them, I construct a network around the viewer, a back and forth between the real, the representational, and the abstract. From the Surface enmeshes the viewer in the struggle to reconcile physical experience with the conceptual realm – lending a heightened sense of reality to a crisis that we know is unfolding, but which tends to lurk in the background of our everyday experience.
    Subjects: printmaking, fine art , chine collé , woodcut , digital print , photo-intaglio , letterpress, found object , collection , archaeology , anthropocene , ecology, dark ecology , consumerism , decay, philosophy , poetry
    Date Created: 2016/02/23