Date on Honors Thesis



Studio Art

Examining Committee Member

Danielle Muzina, MFA, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Jim Bryant, MFA, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Antje Gamble, PhD, Committee Member


Throughout my childhood, my parents often took me out into nature to go hiking, camping, and just explore. Now when I am in nature, I am reminded of my childhood and reflect on the memories of safety and comfort that I experienced, but through the lens of the person that I am today. As I have learned about and engaged with people in my community, I realized that their experiences and views of being outdoors and in the environments that I grew up feeling comfortable in are much different than mine. These different experiences are based on factors such as family or community, external factors, social location, and their personal experiences.

My work is a way for me to reflect on and convey my own experiences as a child as opposed to how I feel today, and also to be an advocate for others who feel unsafe in outdoor environments. I reflect on the complex relationship between people and their surrounding environment in two different media - painting and graphic design. In my paintings, I explore my personal and experiential relationship with the natural environment, as well as how my relationships with family have affected my experiences. I think about what it means to be a woman in nature alone, and how I can sense that with the comfort I feel, there are also feelings of uncertainty and a lurking danger. Through graphic design, I create influential advertising campaigns and posters about inclusion and safety, and visual identities and branding that present a welcoming and inclusive environment.

To show the tension between the comfort I feel in nature in relation to danger that exists, I place myself in paintings as a child and as an adult in situations where the feeling of lurking danger is present, or where the figures are vulnerable in some way. The images that I paint feel precarious and unsettling, but comforting at the same time as I often appear happy in nature with my family. The figures in my paintings interact with recurring symbols and elements such as fog, water, or roots. I use elevated, dark colors and gestural mark making to show opposition and emphasize an unsettling mood.

The colors that I use in my graphic design work are warm, natural, and tonal colors that visually communicate feelings of familiarity and comfort. I use bold serif typefaces such as Gastromond and Freehouse that appear adventurous and lighthearted, paired with wide sans serif typefaces such as Avenir and Effra because these typefaces appear approachable, friendly, and dependable. The flat and minimalistic illustrations and icons that I use in my infographics and advertising designs also make them easily digestible and welcoming for the viewer.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.