Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Painting and Drawing

Department or School/College

Department of Art

Committee Chair

James Bailey

Commitee Members

Bobby Tilton, George Price, Mary Ann Bonjorni


art, ethnicity, identity, mammy, mammy vacuum cleaner cover, power politics, race


University of Montana


Past Periphery examines a contemporary manifestation of the mammy archetype. The common threads between the works presented in the thesis exhibition are erasure, invisibility, and projection. The flattening of a person into icon is the equivalent of the One standing in for the Many. The One embodies surface qualities only and ultimately provides and inadequate summary of the individual or the group. This misrepresentation is the face offered up for public consumption and becomes the foundation for commodity as well as identity. We label, package, sell, and consume this icon as true and correct. But it becomes impossible to define the cultural or ethnic breadth of our so-called inclusive cultural consciousness. The three-dimensional becomes two-dimensional. Iconic representations of racial identity, like mammy, supplant the need for inclusive perspectives that embrace difference. Nationalistic systems that tout Identity as shared experiences effectively deny the role of the individual as shaper of collective awareness. The disembodied individual is left with a fragmented history. Past Periphery examines the fragments, allowing them to function as a lens.



© Copyright 2009 Lisa Nicole Jarrett