Virginia Pfau


I am fascinated by the relationship of modern humans to the natural world, and the ways in which the technology we produce has both positive and negative impacts on it. I want to use my work to create a non-biased, beautiful environment in which others can also contemplate this subject. Clay is an important material not only for its elemental symbolism of earth, but also for its long ties to human craft and culture. Plastics are advanced synthetic materials with various ecologically constructive and destructive aspects in a field with increasing emphasis on environmental sustainability. The synthesis of these two media is technically and aesthetically intriguing to me. I think that creating an installation with them is a good way to construct an atmospheric setting in a gallery space. For my graduate thesis, I propose to make an installation exploring the dialogue between man and the natural world. I plan to use the gallery space at the Hungerford Building to create an environment resembling a river, with "rocks" formed from clay and inlaid with plastic sheets. I will experiment to incorporate clay from the Genesee River into the sculpture clay body I use to form these rocks to bind the work deeply to the location. They will emit light through the translucent plastic, creating an atmosphere of contemplation in the room. I plan to control the direction of passage of the viewers through the gallery installation on the night of the show opening. The people who pass through the environment I create will be a vital part of the work, and I plan to have a video camera in the room to record the passage of the visitors through the gallery in a time-lapse sequence. In the end, I propose that the video of the people passing through the installation be the final work of art in concurrence with the gallery show. I want to try to achieve a synthesis of nature, craft, technology, viewer, and time. In this thesis show event and in my research and making of the work, I want to gain and share a better understanding of our relationship to the world around us, and a heightened awareness of the impermanence of our moment in it contrasted with the lasting effects of our actions here.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ceramic sculpture--Themes, motives; Ceramic sculpture--Technique; Plastic sculpture--Themes, motives; Plastic sculpture--Technique; Installations (Art); Rivers in art

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School for American Crafts (CIAS)


Rogers, Michael

Advisor/Committee Member

Newcomer, Tybre


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: NK4235 .P43 2011


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