Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Steven Smith

Second Advisor

Africanus Okokon

Third Advisor

Gabriel Rocha


This essay contains four bodies of work created during my graduate studies, all of which take place on either the West or East coasts, incorporating performance, photography, and video. In the first half of the paper, I examine how the theme of “displacement” is established in my initial works, and highlight the significance of the state of “being displaced” in my process of imaging and (re)understanding the ocean.

At the core of the thesis, I investigate the wave-piloting of Marshall Islanders and a particular cartographic model, the “stick chart,” which is a mnemonic device embedded with the voyager's somatic memories, personal experiences, and travel stories. The video essay Coast to Coast(Preamble) combines travel shots with the retrospective narration of my encounters along the Pacific Coast, serving as a visual capsule awaiting retrieval by my future self—an embodiment of my own ‘stick chart.’ I perceive myself as a storyteller who engages in ‘mapping’ rather than merely ‘using’ a map, as a way of building and retrieving my own narrative—in this, I retrace my steps and those of my ancestral predecessors, who once lived their lives in proximity to and guided by the ocean.


View exhibition online: Zeyuan Ren, Coast to Coast



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.