Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Susan L. Smith

Second Committee Member

Owen F. Smith

Third Committee Member

Adriane Herman


This written thesis explains the “how” and “why” of my art practice as it stands in August 2020, as well as to situate my work among other artists and overlapping non-art fields. This practice is presented in in the form of a cookbook memoir titled I love it when you make me coffee in the morning., which includes recipes cooked by three generations of men in my family, with a narrative from their wives. In this book, I am examining material culture, particularly food, recipes, and cookbooks, to explore issues of gender and domesticity. I am looking to scholars in the fields of history and folklore to understand how cookbooks have been used to create community, to create or preserve a cultural feminine ideal, and provide first-hand documentations of women’s lives. Drawing on that history coupled with my creative practice as an intermedial artist and book artist, I am following in the tradition of feminist ethnography and autoethnography by starting from my own story and family history to honor the care and labor in home food preparation and normalize non-traditional gender roles in the home. Through my authority as an artist, I am designating this cookbook as art, and thus worthy of contemplation, but still retaining its utilitarian purpose as an intermedial object residing in the overlapping but distinct areas of art and life. In this, I create the opportunity for shared understanding with my audience through narrative, emotional triggers, multi-sensory experience, and recipe as instruction set.

The medium of artist’s book has additional value in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as through a book I can distribute my art into people’s domestic space when COVID-19 has prevented me from having people experience my version of a domestic space in a gallery setting. And as the pandemic has led to many people cooking more at home, this work is also timely in its ability to create connection with others through cooking and narrative when we must be physically apart.