Semester of Graduation
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Art and Design
At the heart of my work is a questioning of human nature in relation to the natural world and the divine. In order to understand myself and the present times in which I live, I trace backwards to the ancient Garden of Eden narrative, an account which shaped my conception of my nature, sex, and role on the earth since I was a child. Drawing upon, and then altering Edenic imagery, I create works that focus on light within framing darkness, and figures within apocalyptic landscapes. Using this narrative as a metaphor for humanity’s destructive nature, I grapple with my fears of an increasingly artificial life amidst the destruction of the earth that we depend on for survival.
Symbolically, the title alludes to the tension between the material and the spiritual, the body and the soul. "That which is above us" refers to the sky and the heavens we reach for, while "that which is beneath us" refers to the soil and the earth that sustains us. It is derived from the Thoreau quote, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads,” which I interpret to mean that life on earth can be as wondrous as the utopia we seek if we allow it to be. A statement that contradicts what I posit as our errant yet natural human inclination, to reach for that which is beyond us, seeking to transcend ourselves even if it is to our own end, even if it means the devastation of our own paradise.
York, Rachel L., "Above Our Heads, Beneath Our Feet" (2023). LSU Master's Theses. 5783.
Smith, Edward C.
Available for download on Tuesday, May 07, 2030