Term of Award

Fall 2022

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

Jason Hoelscher

Committee Member 1

Jeff Garland

Committee Member 2

Matt Mogle


Why have the sunsets and sunrises become so amazingly colorful and awe inspiring recently? Eighteenth century philosophers said such events were examples of the sublime. They defined the sublime as that which is the most absolutely great combined with an underlying element of fear usually caused by the actions of God. This infers that the sublime is something that you can’t fully understand or wrap your head around and leaves you speechless and spell bound. Contemporary art critics say that the sublime is no longer applicable to art because it has been overused. I disagree, and in my art, I look for examples of the sublime in present day events. The slow, insidious, imperceptible, disastrous effects of global warming is one example of the contemporary sublime that I call the Neosublime. The brilliantly red sunrises and sunsets are awesomely great but the realization that they are caused by air pollutants brings a fearful reminder of how global warming is destroying the world. Other examples of the Neosublime are the COVID pandemic and worldwide political turmoil. The most frightening part of the Neosublime is that it is the result of the actions of humans and not God. Like global warming my paintings show beautiful sunsets and giant ocean waves from sea level rise, and yet the impending disaster is not readily apparent. So far humans have not responded to the outcries of climate activists and scientists, but perhaps the warnings within my paintings will be a catalyst for action.

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