Date of Award

Summer 8-25-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

MFA - Master of Fine Arts


Fine Arts

First Advisor

Stuart Steck

Second Advisor

Ben Sloat


My thesis begins with a primer of the historical concept of “black(ness)” and the roots of its racialization. Intertwined throughout my discussion in Section I, I will highlight a few of my research findings and discuss some of the installation images that I created as I studied the work of contemporary artists who use lexical and literal figurative “blackness” in their work—in particular, the oeuvre of Kerry James Marshall as featured in his retrospective exhibition Mastry. My discourse unfolds with a brief etymological review of both the English word “black” and its precedent conceptual forms in Section II. Section III examines Marshall’s conception of invisibility in relation to figurative “blackness.” Section IV describes the use of a digital mobile device as a new means of viewing paintings through the simultaneous intersection of analog painted images and digitally mediated views of those images. After that, in Section V, I will discuss how my project operates as a complex multi-image network. I will analyze how certain aspects of the image network function together to disrupt, intervene, complicate, or redirect the assignment of racialized meaning. My Conclusion highlights how my project argues against the emptiness of color-based racialist thinking, as evinced by the polarizing literally “black” figurative trope within American visual culture.




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