Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Brooks Hagan

Second Advisor

Ana Gitelson-Kahn

Third Advisor

Laurie Brewer


“The waves broke on the shore.” These are the final words of Virginia Woolf’s 1931 novel, The Waves, which follows the passage of a day at the ocean’s shore. The book serves as a backdrop for the life of six characters: Bernard, Susan, Neville, Rhoda, Louis and Jinny. Interludes are interjected between the chorus of these characters, depicting the arc of life from early childhood to old age and death. The relentlessness of the rhythm of the tide, at first pulsing and hard to ignore, becomes ceaseless white noise that eventually falls to the background. The day’s initial drama—a spectacular sunrise, rays sparkling on the surface of the water, shore birds singing to each other and diving to catch breakfast—fades as time progresses. Eventually, as characters pass away and grow apart, we are left with the words of just one, meditating on the ceaselessness of the progression of life in the face of death.

This thesis uses Woolf’s experimental work as a framework of sorts, following the experiences of six people close to me, exemplifying the relationship between grief, memory and the ocean. Using the ocean as its backdrop, this book and this collection lay bare the realities of grief. They bring those who have experienced grief together, eschewing the notion that talking about death in its aftermath is something to be avoided. These separate experiences collide with one another like waves, sometimes softly slipping into a unified palette, and sometimes into dissonance as a group of waves would crash up against a rock. This collection of textiles is inspired by and made for distinct individuals, layered playsuits, sweaters, and pants, made to be worn together in the landscape that they evoke. It is also a celebration of process, both in the making of the work and in moving forward with life after loss. By shedding light on the similarities and differences of individual experiences of grief, and by exposing this collection to the elements, this thesis hopes that we may let ourselves become softer, more willing to flow in and out with the tides, a little more like water.



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