Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Owen F. Smith

Second Committee Member

Laurie E. Hicks

Third Committee Member

Randy Regier


This thesis project explores how stories, real or imagined, are given life through the physical arrangement of text image and object. Through my research, I’ve explored how narrative, and especially fiction, is essential to the human experience. We use text most often to convey information and story, usually in the form of a book. But as digital technology renders physical copies of some books redundant, other book makers are evolving and finding new ways to share stories. Objects and images communicate story and act as powerful triggers for memory as well and when combined with text, the three media can tell a story that is far richer than any single media by itself. An example of this kind of hybrid book form is the scrapbook. Makers of scrapbooks layer photographs with handwritten text, ticket stubs, magazine clippings, candy wrappers, and a wide variety of other daily ephemera. These books tell a story beyond what is on the pages and paint a more richly nuanced tale of the maker who assembled them.

This research resulted in the creation of three separate story worlds using different combinations of text, image and object. Each work has elements that can be read on their own but function best when taken as part of a group of objects. The first piece is called Be Prepared: Shop Display. It is a display for a shop that sells a line of products called Be Prepared. It includes a handmade wooden box filled with magical objects, a handbook of instructions for their use, a variety of other objects and curios for sale, a canvas poster, and business cards. These products are intended to help speed the viewer through even the most challenging of adventures and help them gain the reward they so richly deserve. The second piece, The Story of HER, vol. 2, is a wall installation of 37 collection of various found and altered pieces (paintings, frames, needlepoint, letters, pages from books, photographs, a metal tray, decorative objects) that separately and collectively tell a story. While each piece can be read individually, it also contains part of a larger story. By layering words, images, and objects, I can create a richer narrative than that provided by any one of those modes alone. The final piece is called Kaitlyn’s Suitcase. It is a battered red suitcase containing women’s clothing, shoes, undergarments, toiletries, makeup, a discman and headphones, CDs, a teddy bear, other miscellaneous personal effects, and a handwritten journal. According to the wall text, the owner’s whereabouts are unknown. The intention is for viewers to look through the stuff, read through the journal and draw their own conclusions about what happened to Kaitlyn.