Title page for ETD etd-06092011-111457

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Cassady, Brooke Tyson
Author's Email Address brooke.cassady@gmail.com
URN etd-06092011-111457
Title Communiplaytion: Getting Our Hands Dirty Together
Degree Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
Department Art
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Shaw, Andy Committee Chair
Ortner , Frederick Committee Member
Walsh, Michaelene Committee Member
Chicoine, David Committee Member
Hentz, Christopher A Committee Member
Schwerd, Loren G. Committee Member
  • self-actualizing person
  • compassion
  • facilitate
  • exchange
  • self-actualization
  • altruism
  • felt knowledge
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • trust
  • Do-It-Yourself Geopolitics
  • belongingness
  • agency
  • social media
  • social networking
  • generosity
  • gift
  • ceramic
  • clay
  • interaction
  • intangible
  • tangible
  • haptic
  • tacit knowledge
  • physical
  • bond
  • intimate
  • empathy
  • vulnerability
  • participation
  • rapport
  • courageous vulnerability
  • phenomenology
  • interpersonal
  • community
  • relationships
  • togetherness
  • solidarity
Date of Defense 2011-04-07
Availability unrestricted
CommuniPLAYtion: getting our hands dirty together is a weeklong installation of a collective ceramics studio implanted in Foster Gallery. It is a participatory and interactive exhibition that demonstrates how material play creates moments for personal reflection and contemplation, while also facilitating communication and social relations within a specific place. CommuniPLAYtion is an opportunity for an altruistic exchange among individuals in contrast to the monetary transactions that momentarily connect strangers. These engagements, similar to the “Do-It-Yourself Geopolitics” of other contemporary artists, empower individuals to develop modes of interaction that suit their interpersonal needs.

The exhibition, communiPLAYtion enables the basic precursors that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests are necessary in order to achieve self-actualization. I orchestrate events to make participants feel safe and respected, in order to encourage a sense of connectedness or belonging. I utilize the research of psychologists and art therapists, especially Carl Roger’s nondirective approach to therapy, to create an inviting and comfortable environment where I can be myself and feel willing to open up to others.

The gallery contains one ton of packaged, wet clay, which enables visitors to make any kind or size of sculpture they choose. Together, participants and I incorporate our work into a central part of the room where a temporary landscape of combined, unfired clay objects emerges. Over the course of the week a larger, collaborative sculpture emerges—a tangible record of the creative efforts of a shared group of participants. The sculpture records the marks of each person, alluding to the value of intangible emotions shared during conversation. Collaborators engage in the phenomenological experience of manipulating wet clay in a collective space with shared tools. As they work alongside one another an intimate dialogue unfolds naturally. The sensuous and malleable material enables and physically validates the emotional connectivity that happens on-site. The haptic experience of revealing vulnerability in public spaces and feeling the positive effects of collaboration engenders “felt knowledge” or self-trust. At the end of the week, the raw clay sculpture is broken down into chunks in order to be used for endless reiterations in other locations. Leaving the clay unfired draws attention to the value of the ephemeral, interpersonal exchange rather and imbues the clay with the agency of the collective experiences that continues to build with each event.

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