My thesis objective is to explore the development of one's self image and sense of identity in the absence of the traditional familial role models. Some of what I expect to address is the loss of my mother in my teens and the subsequent impact on my personal development, as well as my father's disapproval and disparagement of all but my academic successes prior to his first stroke, in my early teens. The work will consist of portrait paintings and drawings of myself and family members, plus figurative paintings and prints based on myself and live models. What I hope for is for the viewer to be able to find common ground with my formative experiences through this visual presentation. I find that my long-standing emotional and intellectual attraction to Expressionism and subsequent studies into the lives and works of expressionistic painters has played a highly influential role in my personal development as a painter. This long-held fascination with Expressionism has resulted in a great deal of experimentation with color and mark-making as I worked on the pieces for my thesis. My classical study and training provides me with a strong base from which to spring with my expressionistic forays. Use of expressionistic color and form relationships bestows me with a greater range of tools with which to create my own emotional and psychological presentation through the mediums of painting and printmaking. The content of my work should carry a universality to the viewer. Though the specifics vary, the majority of families damage their members in various ways, both intentionally and inadvertantly. This work is meant to incite the viewer into an examination of one's personal familial experience, thus opening the door to empathize and understand others more fully. The process of creating this body of work has had the unforeseen result of propelling me into a much closer, more painful examination of my self and my life than I had expected, as well as resulting in the need for counselling to address some of these issues. This thesis has therefore become an integral part of my healing process; through this personal examination arose some uncomfortable realities requiring resolution and acceptance in order for me to come to terms with who I am and the generation of that identity. It is my hope that some of this struggle is apparent in the work, thereby striking a chord of shared experience with the viewer.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Self-portraits; Expressionism (Art); Identity (Philosophical concept) in art; Artists--Psychology

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Art (CIAS)


Sheppard, Luvon

Advisor/Committee Member

Howard, Keith


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: N7618 .G74 2011


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