(Proposal Built Based on the LST600: Capstone Thesis/Project Proposal from Dr. Weis.)

My thesis will explore how I came to be the artist and photographer that I am today. First I will study my genealogy, creating a family tree of sorts that reflects the numerous artists on both maternal and paternal sides and what type of arts they were and are involved in. I will also examine the art teachers from elementary school, high school, and the Summer Scholars/Arts Program I participated in when I was 15 years old. Non-art teachers, including those in the liberal studies, music and Baha’i Sunday school classes also played a role in my artwork, as some allowed bringing in artwork to make courses interdisciplinary. And, I cannot forget my friends, family friends and outsiders who influenced my work over the years.

Another point I will explore is how my artwork is influenced by chronic health conditions. I have several chronic mental and physical illnesses. The first to mention are physical, diagnoses being Myofascial Pelvic Pain Syndrome, Abdominal Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Cervical Allodynia, Endometriosis and chronic hip joint, lower back and pelvic pain. The second group are mental health: Rapid Cycling Bipolar Affective Disorder, Depression, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Both physical and mental illnesses are treated with a variety of medications that include: Seroquel XR, Seroquel, Tramadol, Tylenol, Cyclobenzaprine, Norethindrone, Lidocaine Cream, and Nitroglycerin Ointment. Each diagnosis, each medication on its own, and when combined pose struggles I deal with on an everyday basis. I do not know what each day will bring until I open my eyes to that new day. There is a cycle to pain and how I deal with it. Stress levels will increase the pain, start the mood swing, and throw things completely out of whack for days or weeks. Of course, it works the other way as well. Less stress means less pain, and a new mood swing.

While being aware of the external forces; the people, the diagnoses and such, I will look into the genetic component. Was my artistic ability passed down through the genes, like the color of my brown eyes or red curly hair? Was it an individual parent or a combination of both of their genes? Or was it a combination of nature versus nurture? Perhaps it had nothing to do genetically at all. Yet, if it wasn’t genetic, then is it just coincidence to have a family overflowing with artistic ability?

Who on this amazing planet Earth is going to want to read about my family history? Well, who wouldn’t? We are living in a society who must know everything about our favorite musicians, actors and actresses, athletes and authors. Just who were their parents? Where did they get their looks? Their abilities? Artists and photographers are no different. Virtually everyone knows who Vincent Van Gogh was. Or who Andy Warhol was, or who Anne Geddes is. At some point we may have read about their lives as children, their families or their artistic education if they had one.

Perhaps those most interested in this project are my parents, John and Patricia. They have always supported me in everything, life, school, the arts. They’ve been that driving force for me to do what I love to do, photography, and the arts. My Aunt Barbara is my mom’s older sister, she has a masters in art therapy. She works with hospice. Outside my family of supporters I also have my dA account ( where I have posted around 400 pieces of work. Most of it in photography, but also quite a few ATC (artist trading cards) and jewelry I have created. With nearly 60 followers on dA, once I have shared the blog information, I have an instant audience! Past undergraduate and graduate professors will be interested in this project, especially those in the MALS program, as it will truly be an interdisciplinary study. Friends, co-workers, classmates, and anyone else who is interested in learning more about myself and my family as artists, or who have an interest in the nurture versus nature aspect are potential followers. As I am digging through the information, interviewing my family, and pulling the pieces together, I too will become one of the audience members.

While taking on and formulating this proposal, I have had to be mindfully aware of what I truly want to learn from this process. I need to be constantly aware of Self and how I fit into my surroundings, both animate and inanimate. What are my influences? How can I use those influences to better assist me when creating? In my learning to be more self aware, I will be participating in a variety of on campus activities including an art therapy group and an evening yoga course. The group, individual and couples therapy I have been in, will remain unchanged.

In going through this process, and in keeping the online blog, my intent is to be as real, and as honest as I can be. My hope in taking this journey, is that I may become more knowledgeable and educated, in everything I have described above.

I’ve heard so many quotes on goals. Having them you will go places, not-having them, you’ll accomplish nothing at all. Perhaps that is why I like having goals, even if they seem like small ones. I have goals set for this thesis, a calendar to follow. I will check off items as I do them so I feel good for accomplishing one more step! As I continue with this, I also want to better understand how my artistic ability came about (hereditary, environment, mental health or combination). And, how I can channel the creativity I have.

Probably one of the biggest goals I have right now, besides finishing my masters, is to start a company with my spouse Robyn. She returned to school, just after I did. She is working on her business degree at Monroe Community College to learn all the legal business ins and outs. This semester in one of her courses, she will be learning how to make a business proposal, and how to get and complete all the paperwork we need to be up and running. Robyn will graduate in December this year. The business will be selling jewelry, prayer beads, and note cards. Robyn will be doing the business side, while I will be handling the creative end. Our goal of opening a company has many facets of learning for both of us. We have both returned to school knowing that at the end we wanted to have the education behind us to be successful.

In learning how the physical/mental health and medications work with and against my creativity, and how I might through learning knowledge of nature versus nurture aspect, I will learn how to funnel it, and be better equipped to co-run a business.

In reiterating the MALS program learning outcomes: I will explore diverse ideas from an interdisciplinary perspective to explore new meanings and ways to celebrate my life and those around me. In this thesis, I will continue to develop and promote my own creative thinking, as well of that in others. Holding onto and using my critical thinking skills, and articulate expression, I will promote my own daily artwork, along with that of Robyn’s and my business.

To bring this project together, I will use several different methodologies. For print and non-print research, I will utilize an annotated bibliography. For gathering personal art histories from family members, I will use interviews in two ways. The first will be via email, and the second via phone. I will also be using family genealogy in creating an artistic family tree. I will be collecting and identifying artwork from each of the artists. I will also keep meticulous record of my own art and art activity. Those activities will include participating in an on-campus art therapy group that will meet one day a week, under a licensed therapist; and an evening of yoga, to help manage physical pain and stress due to the semester’s workload. There may be added field trips for information including, but not limited to Eastman Kodak, George Eastman House, and Rochester Institute of Technology all in Rochester New York, and The Gallery On Main in Canandaigua NY. Museums and other galleries may also be added if deemed appropriate.

At this time I am envisioning two possible outcomes. The first and for me the most exciting would be an art gallery showing. I would produce the show with work from each artist in the family, from my great grandfather all the way down through to my daughter and daughter. I would want to prepare a narrative pamphlet that would go along with the work. A variant on this would be having an oversized photographic book with the narratives on each page in place of the gallery. Or, thirdly, creating the gallery showing with a narrative pamphlet with the photographic book for sale. The book could continue to be for sale, and perhaps the gallery showing could move from place to place. I believe there will be a point, probably about four weeks in, when the project has all of its individual parts falling into place, that it will show itself on how it should be presented. It would be at that time that I would contact gallery owners, book printers etc.

If at the end of the next ninety days, I have learned how to be mindful of my creativity, and mindful in how my own mental and physical health can help me in that creativity, if I can wake up in the mornings of good days, bad days, really bad days, and really, really good days, and find a way to cope with them all, I will have succeeded. I do not suffer from my mental afflictions. I get along with them quite well. The endless nights, the days of no sleep, the ideas that flow, the craziness and the turmoil are all there for me to thrive on. I do not suffer from mental afflictions, it is my spouse, my daughter, my son, and everyone around me who has affected by my shouting, my crying, my violence, my lack of sleep for days on end, and those interspersed moments of swearing someone was talking to me. When there is a timeline with little checks along the way, marking down one more thing I did successfully to reach the end, that will mean success!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Barbara
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 14:06:29

    Hi Stacey,
    It is very interesting how you are pulling so many aspects of yourself together in this creative and meaningful project. I will keep reading and watching!’Love,
    Aunt Barbara


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