Title page for ETD etd-06062012-225125

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Burns, Danielle
Author's Email Address danielle.elizabeth.burns@gmail.com
URN etd-06062012-225125
Title Up Like Weeds
Degree Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
Department Art
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Koptcho, Leslie Committee Chair
Arp, Kimberly Committee Member
Baggett, Lynne Committee Member
Scott Kelley, Kelli Committee Member
Shaw, Andy Committee Member
  • disavowal
  • storytelling
  • rural
  • memory
  • printmaking
  • reductive woodcut
  • intaglio
  • silkscreen
  • childhood
  • innocence
Date of Defense 2009-05-08
Availability unrestricted
A child playing with matches is forgivable. Kids are curious. They want to explore adult activities through play. Does it stay innocent when that child experiments with the effects of firecrackers in frogs and gasoline on animals? What happens when they light the match? The grey area between childhood innocence and realization of wrong intrigues me and I find it fascinating how adult perspectives of such malicious deeds often vary.

Up Like Weeds questions these responses using a collection of narrative prints and freestanding woodcut figures. They visually tell five tales of children in a rural environment acting out in deviant and mischievous ways not normally associated with youthful innocence. The characters developed from a particular group of children who are based on delinquents I knew, which is why I chose the rural landscape for the settings of my narratives. I speak through this landscape more naturally. The children in this exhibition should not be seen as victimized innocents for whom to place blame, but as vehicles to question this strange time and transition in everyone’s childhood and reflect on an adult tendency to alter their perspectives of these times later in life. They speak directly to and confront the viewer’s childhood memories that have since been rationalized and sugarcoated into child “norms” that project innocence onto play where it never really existed.

The characters in Up Like Weeds should not be seen as future socio-paths or miscreants, but as exaggerated personifications of our once-selves. The confrontational images call the viewer to question an adult tendency to discard certain memories in an attempt to rationalize our actions as children into innocent play. It is virtue by omission. The stories reveal the necessary, but complicated way most of us search for adulthood. This was my experience and what my prints are based on: the messy, secretive and shameful truths that make up our childhoods.

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