Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Painting and Printmaking

First Advisor

Arnold J Kemp

Second Advisor

Cara Benedetto

Third Advisor

Hilary Wilder


My work explores hallucinatory landscapes of the US American West by using a combination of painting styles outside of the Western painting canon. I cross-reference painting and cinema, interweaving video, acrylic paint and the panorama to create a satirical homage to the history and present state of the USA. However, through an earnest devotion to the medium - both painting and cinema - I find my criticisms also yearn to hold onto a belief in a myth I know to be false.

This is an American History conversation about artifice and consumerism through advertising. I use Las Vegas and the Mojave Desert as my metaphor. Las Vegas’ rapidly expanding population has displaced actual plants and animals to replace them with artificial sculptures of the desert cactus and coyote. This desert landscape occupies what was previously Mexico and before that Indigenous lands. TV and hallucinogens play a part in my work - as a means to tap into the psychological staticky holiness of the desert, and I use certain painting techniques to mimic the optical effects of these phenomena. These techniques reference my experience with theater backdrop painting and psychedelic movie posters as well as kitsch hobbyist landscape painting. My focus is the specific territory outside of the National Parks service, the government lands leased to mining companies and housing developers. These are the mystical desert tracts of spacious landscape, just as ecologically important to the whole, yet considered “not quite pretty enough” to warrant a National Park sign or roaming ranger.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Included in

Painting Commons