Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.F.A. in Art


Art and Art History

First Advisor

Philip Jackson

Second Advisor

Virginia Rougon Chavis

Third Advisor

Kris Belden-Adams

Relational Format



David Freedberg wrote in The Power of Images that the purpose of painting portraits was to show the living reality of the sitter by representing subjects in a way they wanted to be seen or remembered. The body of work Un/Veiling challenges that idea by representing both the subject’s staged persona (their “ideal”) alongside their hidden, inner realities. To begin, I referenced photographs of myself as a vehicle to create personas that convey ideas about the fluidity of identity that I then painted using traditional processes (layered oil painting technique to imitate a studied naturalism) on less-traditional, multi-faceted canvases. Un/Veiling reveals that capturing the essence of a sitter has nothing to do with conveying exterior resemblance, but instead involves viewers to delve deeper into the subject’s mind to unveil their hidden, inner realities. However, there is a play of how much access viewers have to the interiority. I control how much or how little I share with viewers. I accomplish this through the process of veiling and unveiling figures, to conceal parts of a perceived identity, while revealing an interiority of the self. The viewers are put in a position of power and feel they have an insight into my life, even when they are not. Through all of this, this thesis work is about revealing the omnipresence of a social mask, while also enticing viewers to find the essence of an individual’s identity. As my paintings deconstruct identity, they also rebuild the figures and challenge viewers to look beyond the façade. By employing the same degree of realism to the exterior and interior selves, Un/Veiling forces the viewers to question what is real and what is not. In some cases, the interior reality may be more telling than the external one.


Emphasis: Painting

Included in

Painting Commons



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