Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Kevin Zucker

Second Advisor

Angela Dufresne

Third Advisor

Jackie Gendel


I have never eaten a blancmange, or seen one in the flesh, or even talked to anyone about having eaten one, but the Blancmange, I’ve decided, is the mascot of my thesis. (You might say, “why does a thesis need a mascot?”, but I’ll tell you right now, this is already a better thesis for having one.) A pastel blob of a dessert originating from medieval Europe, it’s a gelatinous creamy mixture, chilled in a mold, that you can put nuts in or serve with cookies. It looks terrible, really truly. I mean, it looks great, the pinnacle of fancy—decked out with whipped cream and fresh fruits, perfectly round, perfectly poke-able, sometimes with a hole in the middle you could fit your fist in, it literally sits on a pedestal—a beautiful specimen. But also dated and revolting. Also, the worst. A creamy-crunchy vision of a food.

A creamy-crunchy vision. Every day, I go to the studio to realize my creamy-crunchy vision. I am soft, so I am making soft work. In through the pores, swirled around, and poured back out in paint and ink and threads, employing whatever is around. Being soft and spitting out objects that are soft like me, tender and pliable. Lackadaisically summoning them into being, their exact forms contingent on my mood. The objects are filled with ideas, and these ideas are soft too: lacking a singular origin, floating up in amorphous bubbles, bumping into each other and bursting– negating each other, subsuming the bubbles that came before them, floating up and never truly landing anywhere, joining a story with no beginning and no end and then abandoning the story to return to their autonomous blob form and then back again and then back again and again and again.

I am hard, too. Working hard for pleasurable work and pleasuring the work out of myself. I’m stomping around in my big black shoes, stomping for hours to stomp out some meaning. Guarded and driven, I’m scratching out one piece after another in a wild yet pointed fervor. I’m assembling a huge mass of objects just to obscure their meanings. I’m titillated by how they confuse others and titillated by the objects themselves – fun to solve and fun to fondle. Hard nuts to crack. Hard and soft, hard and soft, some terrible, wonderful art for dessert.


View exhibition online: Nicole Schonitzer, Hard Work/Soft Work

Included in

Painting Commons



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