Defense Date

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts

Department

Craft/Material Studies

First Advisor

Hillary Fayle

Second Advisor

Jack Wax

Third Advisor

Kelcy Chase Folsom

Fourth Advisor

Tracy Stonestreet

Abstract

My work embraces a maximalist aesthetic that incorporates, archival research, personal secrets, and pubescent gay boy glamour. I seek to create a stimulating yet jarring experience, while building a world that is both familiar and inherently strange to the viewer. Thrift store cast-offs, hobbyist craft supplies, and saturated drawings are reassembled into a cast of characters and costumes that balance on the line between ghosts, creatures, and friends. While we often think of costume and even art installations as meant to cover bodies and walls, my work tends to reveal more than conceal. I aspire through this work to shine light on the uncomfortable truths of failure, the pain in becoming; the tragedy of the AIDs epidemic; or the uphill battle of navigating inclusive conversations and spaces.

I charge my color palettes and materials with childhood idealism, mythology, and historic events subvert ideas of place, actions, and imagery that are often considered neutral in a heteronormative society. Drawings work in tandem with my sculptural performance practice, as a backdrop and a way to apply use in the performances. Both consider the romances of queer collectivity and kinship.

Through craft, I am earnest. In my version of 'sloppy craft', I echo the messiness of the emotions I feel when confronting the political structures that confine queer bodies. For this

reason, I tend towards a direct form of address; I want my work to scream at you much like the ACT UP activist screaming at you for political change.

In the work presented in this document I am influenced by the forgotten generation-those remembered in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Performers like The Cockettes, Leigh Bowery and public fish sculpture from my hometown. Here I recontextualize the American Halloween symbol of the ghost. I reimagine the bleached cotton bedsheet veiling a body- the ghost symbol we are familiar with- as a queer ghost- something full of life and love not hiding, but standing boldly in the light.Through saturated fabrics, vibrant trims and embellishments, I build a cast of characters who who, with fluidity, shift between fantastical friend to worst nightmare.

Rights

© Eric Anthony Berdis

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

5-19-2020

Included in

Art Practice Commons

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