Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Susan Palmisano, M.F.A.

Second Advisor

Nathan Heuer, M.F.A.

Third Advisor

Beth Ann Harrington, M.F.A.


The thesis exhibition Whirl-Winded: Stressed and Coping explores, through the language of painting, the way stress is embedded into our culture and how art can stand as a vehicle for expression of these emotions. It examines how highly competitive university programs and culturally instilled norms influence and reinforce perpetual stress. The exhibition draws upon personal stressful experiences and utilizes formal techniques used by artists throughout history, employing the image of the human figure and expressive mark making to investigate the cultural pressures for perfectionism. The paintings address the ever-changing communication between the intention of the artist and the viewer's relative understanding of their world based on the principles of their culture. The work exposes rules embedded in our society that promote the continuation of stress and pressures and advocates the need for change to address the causational epidemic of depression and other illnesses.