Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
© 2011 Nicolas S. Shake
My work is pastoral and post-apocalyptic with one foot firmly planted in historical painting and the other in traditional still-life, so it is entropic and sanguine, gleeful, despondent, and matter of fact. It comes at a point in time when the fiction of Nature as a refuge is no longer viable, persuasive or convincing. But rather than rehash this fact, my work celebrates the pastoral’s everyday ordinariness, the capacity for the viewer to experience something wondrous amidst decline. I focus on the cast-off household and utilitarian items that show up in the desert on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The items I engage with could easily be categorized as rhopography, but it is this insignificance that gives them the ability to be reassigned a new aesthetic value, transforming the rubbish into something unexpected by capturing and conveying its uncanny power and peculiar beauty.
In my work I engage in the act of gleaning; I arrive after the initial act has already transpired and take from that the fragments what has been left behind. The items are allowed to continue on in a life that was never intended or anticipated. Returning to the same spot in the desert time and time again, I watch new items accumulate while others decay. My work captures the history of impermanence, and emphasizes the ever-changing value of objects.
Shake, Nicolas S., "Flotsam & Jetsam" (2011). CGU MFA Theses. 36.