Neon Nature

Term of Award

Fall 2017

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Art

Committee Chair

Elsie Taliaferro Hill

Committee Member 1

Kelly Boehmer

Committee Member 2

Jason Hoelscher


The goal of this work is to explore my painting of nature in our contemporary time, considering the current geological epoch termed the Anthropocene, an era I think of as postnatural. Neon Nature is a collection of portraits of hypernatural creatures I call “pseudo-specimens”. These pseudo-specimens symbolize hypernature, which describes manufactured nature as better than authentic nature. These specimens are painted in vanitas-inspired still life scenes to act as a reminder of our changing nature, or new-nature.

Influenced by living in suburbia where nature is manicured and controlled, I am interested in the divide between the “born” and the “made,” the natural versus artificial, and the human urge to manipulate and control nature. I believe depictions of nature in contemporary art must reflect the new nature of the Anthropocene, or hypernature, where we now question what is truly “natural.” I paint these fictitious creatures to slow down and study my conflicted feelings on the current state of nature, and to create contemporary vanitas that serve to remind the viewer of our new, hypernatural nature.

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