The first week of the Studio Art Thesis Exhibitions presents works by Rebecca Brand, Rachel Fox, Addison Rose McDowell, and Elissa Palmer.  Through plastic, paper, metal, and light, this week's theses investigate the infrastructures and institutions that construct our physical reality. 

Elissa Palmer's perspective

Each of Elissa Palmer's sculptures utilizes repetition of geometric figures to create an almost infinite continuity, creating harmony between the 2D and the 3D side of things. Without examining each sculpture up close, one would not be able to tell that they are all entirely made out of laser-cut paper. “Paper is extremely delicate and malleable, yet strong. This is how I see nature--from a distance, rivers have their own continuous movements, and they always will. But if you look closer, with each wave, the water changes and will continue to change”, says Elissa of her inspiration for her architecture thesis. On a table lay small geometric sculptures, accompanied by spray-painted depictions of their two dimensional shape. To the side hangs an enormous sculpture, comprised of continuous repeated geometrical shapes. Elissa notes,“It’s always difficult to explain what is going on in your head, but it’s so easy to simply create it. That’s what I did.” 

Rebecca Brand's ex situ

“Being an art history double major has greatly developed my interest in archaeological archival and the politics of space” Rebecca Brand comments when I ask about her inspiration. “It’s interesting to note how people can live in one place for their whole lives, and never notice that their city or town is organized in the shape of a flower. They go about their lives without considering their aerial view or the bigger picture.” Having grown up in a cul-de-sac herself, Rebecca explores the various aspects of city planning based on her own unique coding system comprising of seven principles, which she conveniently provides on a side table printed on a sheet of paper. Her work focuses on eternal artifacts from different times and places, and how they can manifest and mutate into other structures. In addition to providing the current layouts of cities from around the world, she manipulates them based on her seven principles to create her own interesting layouts and shapes for cities. “I want to interact and I want others to interact with the places we live in, so I have worked to unpack bits and pieces from the originals to create my own version of city planning.”

Addison McDowell's middle grey

Addison McDowell’s thesis is both a macro and micro investigation of clarity, occurring simultaneously. She notes that “by zooming closely into various objects, I hope to displace the viewer so that the more they look at my drawings, the more confusion they feel.” By incorporating videos into her work, Addison plays with the idea of movement and change to create an environment of uncertainty and analysis. “It makes me think about how as young adults, we tend to analyze every bit of a situation that we may find ourselves in, to the point that we lose all of the clarity that we think we have. This is what my thesis is all about--clarity abstraction.” While she does not wish to disclose the identities of the objects she chose to investigate, it is all about how the viewer moves in and out of the drawings, taking in more and more information, but at the same time questioning each bit of information that they acquire.

Rachel Fox's Home Improvements

Technically a photography major, Rachel Fox included both photographic and sculptural elements in her thesis, but it has morphed into a large, DIY build-your-own-house sculptural project. Upon walking into her piece, you see that all of the wooden structures that she built herself are covered in clear vinyl. “I see this as a showroom”, says Rachel. Most of her structures have multiple layers visible in them--one can see both the inner insulation of the walls, and at the same time a glass vase on a shelf, or a key hanging on a wall. “The idea of home is overdone. Everyone has a vision of home in their mind, but I wanted to take that apart and examine it from the inside. I am interested in the layers of a home, both literally and figuratively.” Each part of her “home” is incomplete, seen by the most obvious separation of the structures. But at the same time one can see plants, shelving, and lighting throughout; these small household items make even gaping open walls feel like a home.