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2013 MFA Thesis Exhibition Canzani Center Gallery

Produced in association with 2013 MFA Thesis Exhibition Trace of a Moving Point April 12–May 4, 2013 Canzani Center Gallery Columbus College of Art & Design Columbus, Ohio Director of Exhibitions: Michael Goodson Creative Director/Designer: Lindsay Kronmiller Editorial Director: Laura Bidwa Cover Images: Details of artwork provided by 2013 MFA candidates. Photographs of all works in Trace of a Moving Point provided by the artists. Photo on page 04–05 by Luke Kramer (CCAD 2014). ©2013 Columbus College of Art & Design, the authors, and the artists. All rights reserved. No part of the publication may be reproduced or otherwise transmitted in any form by any means electronic or otherwise without written permission from Columbus College of Art & Design, 60 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Contents 01 Business Is Good Melissa Starker

06 Kristin Baird 10 Amy Cubberly-Yeager 14 Linda T. Diec 18 Laurie Ihlenfield 22 Mike Laughead 26 Andrew J. McCauley 30 Liz Morrison 34 Amy Lynn Schweizer 38 Pamela I. Theodotou


business is good Melissa Starker

A February ride up the elevator to the third floor of Design Studios on Broad, home to CCAD’s MFA program, yielded an intriguing and unexpected scene—one that had nothing to do with the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Discovery District or the variety of student work all around. It’s the cubicles that threw me. The space’s open floor plan is divvied up into individual workspaces with the same neutral-toned, movable walls that are found in your average business office. But the desks, filing cabinets and clipped Dilbert strips are missing, replaced instead with an expansive range of art supplies, tools, and the objects made from them. The collision of office furniture and individual creative endeavor forms a vibe that feels a little strange at first, but it’s dead-on for a program concentrated on “the business of art,” as student Pam Theodotou described it. Like many workplaces, CCAD’s MFA program is project-based and deadline-driven. Students are expected to deliver results not only in the form of completed work, but also in verbal and written articulation about their endeavors, inspirations, and personal processes. The thing is, the professional art world works this way, too.


“You need [these skills] to survive if you want to be in this world,” Theodotou elaborated. “The artist has to be part of this process—otherwise she’s just an instrument of an industry.” Engineered to offer a balance of freedom and structure, the program supplements individual courses of study with a concerted emphasis on critique—from fellow MFA students as well as from professors. There’s no separation by medium. Filmmakers chime in about painters. Illustrators offer feedback to sculptors and glass blowers. “That we’re all in the same space is huge,” said student Amy Cubberly-Yeager. “If I were grouped together with just painters, I don’t think I would gain nearly as much.” The process results in artists with a sense of self-direction that HR pros in any field would covet. And each artist expresses him- or herself with remarkable precision both visually and verbally, as brief visits inside each cubicle revealed. Amy Lynn Schweizer spoke passionately about her lifelong fascination with disease, the fuel for a series of black-and-white, text-embellished portraits that contrast ethereal aesthetic beauty with the social stigma of debilitating illness. Andrew McCauley discussed the recent loss of his mother after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. His “figurative narrative” paintings reflect an intimate view of the effect of physical degradation on memory and one’s relationship to one’s own body, along with his efforts to lighten a painful subject through an otherworldly, eye-popping color palette. In talking about his thesis project, the graphic novel The Legend of Acornhead, Michael Laughead noted the connections between his own coming-of-age in the Mormon Church and his fantastical female protagonist that bristles against the idea of a marriage mandate.


With similar candor, Cubberly-Yeager spoke of the difficulties of having your own face stare back at you, day after day—the inevitable side effect of her exploration of identity through the re-creation of the same self-portrait dozens of times, in media ranging from thread-wrapped nails to glued-on glitter. Kristin Baird retraced some of her personal travels through the urban spaces of central Ohio and explained how she had embodied them in two- and three-dimensional works that lean on architectural lines and the mobile app StepTrace. Theodotou, a filmmaker, related how the CCAD program encouraged her to explore a new concept for combining cinema and graphic novels—and helped her master the necessary software to see this idea to fruition. Linda Diec was similarly inspired to expand her comfort zone, moving from an emphasis on glass art to mixed media installation work fed by layered sound and historic visions of Utopia. In contrast, Laurie Ihlenfield found that the program reconnected her to the fiber artistry she had initially dismissed as being “too crafty” for her MFA efforts. The resulting installation combines human-made order with organic disorder through images projected on a sensually charming forest of thread and fine lace. Thesis work has allowed Liz Morrison to expand visually on her practice of crafting poetry. Combining the written word with amateur astronomy and a family history of sharing the stories behind constellations, she creates smallscale works that hold a power both deeply personal and surprisingly epic. As I descended back to street level, the bland beige walls that had first stood out in my mind caved in, outweighed by tantalizing imagery and industrious dedication to practice. With this came a sense of elation at the thought of seeing the work come together, fully realized, within the white walls of the Canzani Center Gallery this spring.




Kristin Baird Kristin Baird grew up in a rural area 35 miles outside of Cincinnati. From an early age, she was infatuated with the city and its energy and convenience, spurred by its stark contrast to her daily surroundings, where the nearest grocery store was a twenty-minute drive away. While studying at the University of Cincinnati, where she received her BFA in 2009, Baird was inspired by the university’s urban planning program, causing her to view her new urban setting with greater consideration and a realization that compositions and systems easily taken for granted are constructed upon thousands of years of precedent. Baird’s paintings are an investigation of the repetition and pattern of the systems of the urban core, be they the structures that make up the urban environment, the footprint on which the city is built, or the human interactions and relationships occurring within the city. She superimposes layers of patterns and elements found in her own urban surroundings with maps documenting her movements throughout these spaces, creating areas of density contrasted with areas of sprawl. These constructed landscapes investigate the history, function, and aesthetic of the patterns from which they are formed, exploring how each facilitates utility, growth, comfort, and security within the urban condition. Tracing 3, 2013; oil and mixed media on panel; 24 x 30 inches Next page (both images): Tracing 1 (detail), 2013; oil and mixed media on panel; 12 x 48 inches





Amy Cubberly-Yeager Amy Cubberly-Yeager’s work explores the issue of identity, both general and personal, through portraiture and self-portraiture. Utilizing the same banal reference image as a starting point, her aim is to make as many iterations of the image—herself—as possible. Her mediums range from the traditional (oil, charcoal, woodcut) to the unexpected (wool, coffee, beads). Much like a child trying on various costumes and assuming different identities, these works are infused with a sense of play. The repetition and redundancy of the work speak to the phenomenon that occurs when a word repeated over and over again begins to sound bizarre and lose its meaning. Cubberly-Yeager’s repeated self-portraits break down identity in a similar manner—separating its components and showing their strangeness in order to reconstruct and reveal reality. Cubberly-Yeager grew up in a small community just outside of Toledo. She earned her BFA from Bowling Green State University with a dual specialization in drawing and painting. She also studied for a short time at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy, where she was deeply inspired by the Renaissance masters. This spread (left to right): All/None (detail), 2013; oil on printed canvas panel; 12 x 12 inches; All/None (detail), 2012; knitted cotton yarn; 14 x 20 inches; All/ None (detail), 2013; coffee, cream, & sugar on stained panel; 12 x 12 inches; All/None (detail), 2012; wire nails and thread on wood; 12 x 12 inches; All/None (detail), 2012; colored pencil, shrunken plastic, and keychain; 3 x 4½ inches Next spread (left to right): All/None (detail), 2012; embroidery on cotton baby blanket; 24 x 30 inches; Daily Identities (detail), 2012; graphite on paper; 3 x 3 inches; All/None, 2012; mixed media; 93 x 80 inches



Linda T. Diec Linda T. Diec is first-generation American, born to Vietnamese refugees. She grew up in a nontraditional, bilingual home in the suburbs of Cincinnati, where her parents were pressured to stop speaking their native language to help her fit in. As a result, the dissection, origin, and meaning of language have heavily influenced her perspective and way of communicating. Through her work, she translates and attempts to make sense of the many faceted systems, idioms, and ideologies of her surroundings. As a trained glassblower, Diec is well versed in transforming a seemingly common material into something extraordinary. With this, she creates dialogue that questions the value of labor, utility, culture, and space and encourages seeing beauty in the handmade and occasionally imperfect. Diec’s Halo illustrates the ego and futility of the human desire for perfection with poetic environments rich in cultural, spatial, and theoretical irony. Using the oculus as a metaphor for the analysis of utopic theories from the likes of Buckminster Fuller and Le Corbusier, Diec illuminates the inherent flaw in attempts to create the perfect by glorifying the accidental. Further cultural and historic juxtapositions occur through her layering of all the pop songs in the 2012 American Top 40 into a single track shown in tandem with a reconstructed and skewed image of the Pantheon—both acting as spotlights on humanity. Diec received a BFA in glass in 2007 from Ohio State University, where she also studied art history, architectural design, and biochemistry. All for Not studio (detail), 2013; antique Edison horn, vinyl, replica phonograph; 36 x 30 x 65 inches


Halo project plan, 2013; plexiglas, neon, conduit, Ikea furniture, glass, gold, concrete, succulents; dimensions variable. All for Not project plan, 2013; antique Edison horn, vinyl, replica phonograph; 36 x 30 x 65 inches. A Noble Concession project plan, 2013; foam, neon, bronze, glass; dimensions variable. 16

Laurie Ihlenfield Exposure to a variety of cities, cultures, and landscapes has fueled Laurie Ihlenfield’s interest in the way humans arrange and react to environment. Ihlenfield examines the role of order in our arrangement of nature, from the rows of trees lining our streets to the gridded structures of the city. In the manmade, she sees our attempt to order nature and recreate beauty in a less threatening manner. We find comfort in order, but our push toward order is constantly being challenged by nature and time. Ihlenfield asserts that nature is a force that can be altered but not ignored: our creations can attempt to replicate the sublime, but cannot replace it. At the heart of her work is our reaction to the romantic notion of the sublime, which can be simultaneously awe inspiring, chaotic, and unnerving. Ihlenfield’s large-scale embroidered drawings recall the sense of grandeur that nature evokes—while at the same time delicate, fragile materials such as silk, lace, and thread are winding their way through the piece like untamed nature taking over. Ihlenfield earned a BA in English from the University of Maryland. After years of traveling and living in places from Guam to Italy, she settled in Columbus, where she earned a BFA from Columbus College of Art & Design. This page and next: Nature of Order (detail), 2012; fabric, thread, and wire; 36 x 42 x 10 inches


Mike Laughead To create The Legend of Acornhead, illustrator Mike Laughead entered the world of graphic novels, collaborating with an inker and colorist to tell a fantasy genre story of a teenage girl leaving her religious commune to seek a husband. The narratives in Laughead’s work stem from his experiences as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, particularly his time as a missionary in Argentina. He discusses the issue of acceptance between individuals with different points of view by exploring the dynamics of religious conversion and inter-religious friendship. Though potentially serious, this theme is conveyed with a sense of humor and adventure, making the work palatable for its pre-teen audience. Laughead is originally from Muscatine, Iowa. He studied at Brigham Young University–Idaho, receiving his BFA in 2005. While living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Laughead illustrated and designed many picture books, t-shirts, posters, and magazines for clients including Random House, Amazon Children’s Publishing, and Stone Arch Books. He has illustrated children’s books about a wooden robot learning to play soccer, a girl hippopotamus trying to buy a pair of shoes, and the many adventures of a young Hispanic boy who befriends a robot. Mike Laughed with Keaton Kohl and Stefan Jolet, The Legend of Acornhead page 1, 2013; pencil, ink, and digital; 5 x 7½ inches Next page (left to right): The Legend of Acornhead page 15 (detail), page 14 (detail), and page 11 (detail), all 2013; pencil, ink, and digital; 5 x 7½ inches




Andrew J. McCauley Andrew J. McCauley’s work revolves around the effects that diseases like multiple sclerosis have on the body and mind. Atrophy and decline of the central nervous system are formalized as McCauley incorporates the human figure into a narrative landscape that acts as a metaphor for memory loss. His characters are caught in the experience of nervous and circulatory system failure and, ultimately, a total loss of mobility. Each is surrounded by the deconstruction and fractioning of archetypal memories. The playful, intentionally unsophisticated characters act as a balance to lighten the heavy connotations of their decline. McCauley’s practices of carving into the surface and mixing gasoline with paint pigments, then igniting it, give the work an aggressive and automatic feel. The stains left after ignition call to mind blood vessels or neuron synapses underneath the skin. The story of dilapidation is linear and traditionally read from left to right; spaces between the panels symbolize the disconnection of cells transmitting information, much like when the outer coating of a nerve begins to corrode. Amorphous, organic shapes that signify brain lesions creep in and over each panel to reinforce the notion that these visual memories are being erased. McCauley received his BFA from Ball State University in Muncie, IN, graduating with a focus in painting/drawing while taking a strong interest in cognitive psychology. He has worked with the Multiple Sclerosis Society for several years, organizing events and advocating for further research and understanding within the community. Interstellar Formaldehyde, Dromedary, 2013; watercolor, enamel, acrylic, fabric and paper on wood; 16 x 16 x 3½ inches


Interstellar Formaldehyde, Colorworm, 2013; watercolor, enamel, acrylic, fabric and paper on wood; 16 x 16 x 3½ inches


Interstellar Formaldehyde, Coquette in Color Form, 2013; watercolor, enamel, acrylic, fabric and paper on wood; 16 x 16 x 3½ inches


Liz Morrison Humans have long gazed up at the night sky and connected the dots to make line drawings, creating meaning out of chaos. 15,000 years ago, they painted the coming of spring on cave walls by mapping the relationship between Taurus and the Pleiades in the sky. Liz Morrison follows the tradition of projecting stories into the stars by constructing her poetry as constellations. Clusters of letters and words emerge from chaotic specks of white drawn onto fields of black ink. Proximity and relative brightness of certain specks in the star field highlight her text. An invented constellation materializes, and along with it, a narrative message. Lovers, muses, and stars dance together in Morrison’s abstract stories: life comes from dust, stars are under the sand, and the moon is an indecisive bird. The setting for the stories is a quiet, personal cosmos, an intimate experience of the infinite created through scale and construction. Whereas the expansive night sky overhead is overpowering, these modestly sized pieces are approachable. A sense of the personal is enhanced by Morrison’s meticulous construction: the extensive interaction between the artist’s hand and the page reveals another intimate relationship. Morrison graduated from Oberlin College in 2008, majoring in studio art and working as a teaching assistant in astro-physics. Not Yet Written in Stars cover (detail), 2012; acrylic on bookbinding cloth; 6 x 8 inches Next page (left to right): Muse (detail), 2013; sumi ink, masking fluid, acrylic; 3 x 4 inches; Salmacis (detail), 2013; Prismacolor pen; 6 x 4 inches; Dust (detail), 2012; sumi ink, masking fluid, acrylic; 5 x 6 inches; Seeds (detail), 2013; Prismacolor pen; 4 x 2 inches; Echo (detail), 2013; sumi ink, masking fluid, acrylic; 5 x 6 inches



Amy Lynn Schweizer Amy Lynn Schweizer believes that illness is a common thread that connects all people to one another. And as changes in health occur, one’s sense of self can change as well. It is this destabilization, or transition of self, as a result of illness that Schweizer strives to capture. She uses her camera as a vehicle for her subjects to share their feelings about their personal shift of self, as well as including their handwritten accounts in the final work. Shooting in black and white and printing larger than life, Schweizer creates a visceral experience that captures the action of individuals moving within the frame and generates an ethereal, ghostlike feeling. With these photographs, she makes the unseen self visible through the soft lines of movement. Schweizer received her BA in sociology/anthropology with an emphasis in photography from Ohio Wesleyan University. It was there that she began to shape the unique, sociological perspective of her artistic practice. Later work as a freelance photographer led to Schweizer’s deep interest and empathy towards people and how they interact with the camera.

Defines or Confines, 2013; digital print; 44 x 66 inches Next page (left to right): I Am Strong, 2013; digital print; 44 x 66 inches. I Am Capable, 2013; digital print; 44 x 66 inches




Pamela I. Theodotou Filmmaker and writer Pamela I. Theodotou’s work is a hybrid media form that combines words, images, video, and motion graphics into a dramatic narrative. Theodotou has developed three such projects, which she calls “cinemagraphic novels,” during her studies at CCAD. The second, Stark Justice, will appear in two film festivals in 2013: the Columbus International Film + Video Festival and the New Media Film Festival in Los Angeles. Pandora, her thesis project, is about the confrontations created when beauty and the grotesque are brought into the philosophical dualities of truth and immortality as espoused by Burke, Kant, and Hugo. These themes are addressed through a fictionalized autobiographical drama of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, and the macabre forces that inspired her horror masterpiece. Theodotou was the writer, producer, director, cinematographer, artistic director, costume designer, and production designer for the project. Theodotou holds a BS in biology from Denison University and a JD from Case Western Reserve University. She has shown her photography in the United States and Europe. Her films have been official selections and garnered awards in film festivals internationally, and her screenwriting work has been recognized by Zoetrope and other international competitions. This page and next: Pandora (detail), 2013; cinemagraphic novel, color, HD digital video; 1920 x 1080 pixels; 16:9 aspect ratio


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Trace of a Moving Point—2013 MFA Thesis Exhibition  

Trace of a Moving Point features the culminating achievements of CCAD’s 2013 class of MFA candidates. Their work ranges from glass, installa...