Jessica Burko


My MFA Thesis work, on the edge of being, explores the shaping of adult personality and externally, its nature dictated that I approach the theorem from a personal direction, focusing the investigation on my own behavioral patterns. Many characteristics of my personality can be attributed to the absence of my mother throughout my life, both emotionally and physically. For the past four years I have been exploring various components of my life, and relating feelings of anger, sadness, and loss through my artwork. The investigation of themes generated through an examination of my own life experiences, has led to reflection on my past and a comparison of it to the lives of families around me. I have conducted this investigation primarily through photographic projects which have been influenced by readings on family relations and theoretical texts on artistic representations of the autobiographical narrative. I have explored the adult reaction to the separation of mother and child, and I have examined how the early lack of a reliable and strong relationship with a mother figure effects a child's emotional development, and continues to damage the child's psyche through adulthood. The bond between mother and child is examined in psychological texts, and journals about family relations. It is explored in movies, and books, and has been a theme in the work of visual artists working in all media. It is a bond that is widely considered to be crucial in the positive development of a child's emotional state, and in the development of that child's ability to create and maintain deep relationships with others throughout life. The psychologist Dr. John Bowlby has said, 1/rWhat is believed to be essential for mental health is that the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with their mother in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment... Why some individuals should recover, largely or completely, from experiences of separation and loss while others seem not to is a central question, but one not easily answered." Without the consistent influence of a strong mother figure in childhood and adolescence, a person's emotional development may suffer, and as a result, in adulthood one must counterbalance these difficulties with corrective learned behavior in ordered to live an emotionally fulfilling life. This concept resonates with my experience on deep emotional levels and propels the work that I set forth in my thesis.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Photography, Artistic--Themes, motives; Installations (Art)--Themes, motives; Personality

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)


O'Neil, Elaine

Advisor/Committee Member

Kelly, Angela


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: TR654 .B857 1999


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