Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Lesley Baker

Second Advisor

Anina Major

Third Advisor

Anne West


In biology, a chimaera is created when two zygotes collide at an early stage of development, resulting in a unique creature containing two distinct sets of genes. The name is borrowed from Greek mythology where chimaeras are fire-breathing monsters born with the mixed attributes of lions, snakes, and goats. As creatures of myth, chimaera represent a narrative union of disparate parts; a collision of the fantastic and the mundane.

Clay can be used to explore this dichotomy, utilizing its ability as a mutable canvas to embody a vast range of visual vocabularies while referencing its rich history and placing new creations into context.

The Fableware of the Garden of the Grotesque features ceramic vessels that tell the stories of metamorphosis and hybridity within an otherworld. Through the lens of the chimaera and the medium of clay the lines between story and vessel can begin to blur and guide viewers to ask what is possible rather than what is “natural.”

Each fragment constructing a chimaera has its own history, and these origins are expressed in their temperament, compositions, and collision with other pieces. By using the chimaera as a model of synthesis, we can center the possibility of what could happen in life rather than become stuck in the expectations of what should happen. By using the chimaera as a blueprint we can find empathy for ourselves and others as beings composed of many influences and experiences. A fusion of the fantastic and the mundane.


View exhibition online: Matt Becker, Fableware from The Garden of the Grotesque

Included in

Ceramic Arts Commons



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