Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Steven B. Smith
This thesis explores a personal and cultural tension between rootedness and restlessness, set against the backdrop of my native Midwest. The large-format portrait and landscape photographs reflect a paradoxical longing to pull up stakes and put down roots, and the liminal state we often dwell in as a result. Playing on the conception of the Midwest as a transient zone to be passed through en route to somewhere else, the work refers to the pervasive belief that our greatest hopes and potentials can only be realized in some other place, at some future or past time. It’s a syndrome I grapple with myself, centrifugally lapping the country in perpetual search for an impossible landing pad. As American society drifts increasingly towards untethered mobility and develops a homogenized temporary landscape in its wake, our identifications with distinct regional home places are more likely to reach mythical proportions. As such, the Midwest becomes not just my centripetal anchor, but also my stage — a metaphorical intersection between movement and stasis drawing from observation, experience, memory and fantasy. Here, my personal myth of place unfolds.
Kirk, Elise, "Mid-" (2015). Masters Theses. 23.