Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus


Department or School/College

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Committee Chair

Matt Hamon

Commitee Members

Valerie Hedquist, Debra Magpie Earling, MaryAnn Bonjorni


art installation, fairy tales, gender constructs, performance art, sleep, vulnerability


University of Montana


This paper is written both as a compliment to and in defense of Yaro Shon Neils' Master's Thesis Exhibition Suspension of Belief, an art installation and performance during which the artist created a bedroom-like space and slept in the Gallery of Visual Arts for the three week duration of the exhibition. The statement for the show read: Suspension of Belief explores the line between the fantastical and the mundane, loosely investigating the role that fairy tales and other myths play in shaping personal identity and our larger cultural mythology. When engaging with a story, a temporary willing suspension of disbelief is necessary to fully connect to the events unfolding. But what happens when this suspension of disbelief is carried over into the everyday; illusory messages being reiterated until they create a foundation for a cultural identity, until we’ve forgotten that they’re mere mythology, until they become belief? Is anything lost when we regain cognizance of the mythology that constructs so much of our cultural underpinning? Are there parts of these myths worth holding on to?

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© Copyright 2012 Yaro Shon Cora Neils