Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

School of Visual and Media Arts

Committee Chair

Trey Hill

Commitee Members

Kevin Bell, Mary Ann Bonjorni, David Curtis


reality, awareness, magic, Buddhism, self-inquiry


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Ceramic Arts | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Painting


My art is emblematic of the practice of accepting reality. The vehicles I use to do this are a cast of characters, materials and compositional strategies that in totality, remind the viewer and myself to be in the moment.

The thesis exhibition, Heart Vomit and the Dream Army, featured mural-esque ink paintings on panels and approximately 36 - 48 inch high abstract ceramic figures covered with images. Both the 2D and 3D works feature a cast of characters. These characters originate from “Michelle Land”, an imaginary world created to house an evolving symbolic visual language. The graphic black and white imagery proliferates with metaphorical smiling figures and animals. The characters and the painting process represent: modes of thought, relationships, events, places, and feelings. The universe depicted is made of infinite psychological and physical realities.

Image creation stems from two meditative practices: Buddhist self inquiry teachings and daily lap swim. Both allow access to the physiological energy that opens my imagination in unfettered ways. (page 22) For instance while swimming, I construct images through a didactic game of questioning and listening to my mind.

The works combine elements of representational imagery and chaotic expressive marks. “Chaos marks” are an extension of my emotional and energetic lived experience. The representational imagery reflects lived narrative. The paintings and sculptures are monochromatic because I want the viewer to cue into the recognizable symbols before cuing into emotions. In other words, head to heart versus heart to head.

Thesis research discusses my studio practice, including introduction, process, and historical connections to Maximalism (dense compositions), Superflat (collapse of high and low art), and Surrealism (unexpected imagery).


© Copyright 2021 Michelle Kathryn Postma