Title

Undercurrent

Year of Award

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Printmaking

Department or School/College

School of Fine Arts

Committee Chair

James Bailey

Commitee Members

Andrew Wilcox, Elizabeth Dove

Keywords

attachment, fluvial systems, human connection, intaglio, printmaking, relationships, river, subsurface, surface, woodcuts

Publisher

University of Montana

Abstract

My thesis work references dynamic river processes as a metaphor for relationships and the processes by which these relationships form us as individuals. The images stem from my experience as a professional and recreational whitewater river guide (memories that were powerful in shaping my life) and observations of others candidly interacting. I use river-like references (such as holes, deep pools, eddies, currents) with figurative images to explore the idea of surface and subsurface: the apparent and the obscure. Rivers, like people, have such a depth of current and dynamic change that gives them shape and form. Even with the most stable and seemingly unchanging river systems there are still small changes in flow, current, erosion and sediment transport that shape and carve the banks and boulders. In order to navigate obstacles and dangers in a river one must learn to “read the water” or the surface of the water. What can be seen on the surface is such a small indication of what is happening in the undercurrent. When on the river, being able to see the various signs on the surface of the river can provide opportunities to protect yourself and others. These small tells not only allow you to avoid danger, but also allow you to enjoy the various features of the river to a fuller extent. Through experience one can learn to read and attempt to understand the surface tells to understand what is happening below the surface. As with rivers, we as individuals are constantly being shaped through our relationships as well as participating in the shaping of those we interact with. These relationships, whether intimate or casual, are a significant human experience. My hope is that my work will draw attention to the process by which we as individuals are shaped by our relationships, and our importance to each other.

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© Copyright 2011 Stephanie Rasmussen Johnsen