Empathetic Gestures: Locating Memory and Site Through Craft

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McCurdy, Alisha Rae
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
My work begins with a search for a familiar site that I associate with home. Beginning with artworks that intimately explore a personal homesickness and a yearning to connect, I have moved into works that have a wider, more socially conscious impetus relating to coal mining in Western Pennsylvania -- to mining globally; having grown up in a coal town nestled in Western Pennsylvania, it has been a part of my personal and regional identity. Only now am I beginning to understand its significance in my life and in the lives of millions of people around the world. This thesis will chronologically examine significant works of mine that have led me to my current interests in the coal industry. In the analysis of each artwork, considerations of media, materials, scale, conceptual concerns, and art historical references will be addressed. A more sharply focused examination of art historical references will then center on concepts of site sculpture as conceived by Robert Smithson and Rosalind Krauss. Krauss' seminal essay "Sculpture in the Expanded Field" will be used to help locate a substantive definition of Site and "Sited-ness" in relation to sculpture and installation, two areas that my own work occupies. I will then focus on Smithson's notions of Site and Non-Site as defined in his essay "A Provisional Theory of Non-Sites." I am interested in his ideas about Site and Non-Site and how they manifest themselves in my work. Of particular interest is whether there can be an expansion of the Site / Non-Site discussion that makes room for artwork that includes a consideration of both Site and Non-Site as potentially emotionally charged. My solo thesis exhibition, Seven Hundred Thirty-Five, took the form of a sculptural installation, was displayed in the Lawrence Alloway Memorial Gallery November 14 - 25, 2011. Work shown in the 2012 MFA Group Exhibition at the Staller Center University Art Gallery, included sculptural and print-based artworks.
57 pg.