Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Painting and Printmaking

First Advisor

Holly Morrison

Second Advisor

Hilary Wilder

Third Advisor

Caitlin Cherry


The sublime as a concept has a fraught and racist history. However, it remains the single most helpful idea in describing the deeply felt state of being when one comes across something ineffably powerful. From an art-making perspective, this thesis, and the accompanying exhibition of installations and paintings, proposes an alternative construction of the concept of the sublime. Using Lacanian psychoanalysis as a conceptual point of departure, a painter can manipulate the relationship of the viewer and paintings to create paradoxical moments of simultaneous intimacy and distance, which interact to create an alternative path towards the sublime. Through descriptions of these mechanisms of interactions, this project proposes a sublime that is melancholic and vulnerable instead of violent and terrifying—a sublime that is derived through a process of difficulty and eventual reckoning with failure.


© Hao Ding (Damien)

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission