an MFA thesis in graphic design

I was going to be a doctor.

The premise of the practice of clinical medicine is that history and appearance (presentation) are inextricably linked. Physical diagnosis in medicine is based jointly on the patient interview and physical examination: things recounted in the history will be visible on the body, and things discovered on the body will be explained by the history. The one informs the other.

As a medical student I was trained to gather information from the bodies of my patients and I learned to supplement these physical findings with narrative from the medical interview to more clearly identify and understand the processes at work in my patients. I’m a designer now, not a doctor. But that training, that method of examination and inquiry to piece together a story, is with me still and directs me in my work.

My work explores my interest in bodies, human and otherwise, and the ways in which their physicality, particularly their surfaces, expresses and records their past lives and lived experiences. I'm interested in the active processes that shape us and I'm interested in how form attests to processes endured. As matter is impacted by its experiences, its plastic physicality records what it has lived, where it’s gone, how it has functioned and been used. Rituals of repeated use create smooth-worn surfaces, grooves or tracks; lived events deform, score, flatten or otherwise alter form; organic processes create changes in color, texture and structure over time. In the marks of its lived experience, its substance is imprinted with story–the very course of its life is marked. The accumulated dings and dents and deterioration over time that comes from existing in this world are the record of its lived experience.

Gathering physical evidence and constructing narratives or histories, the two halves of the clinical practice of medicine, are tools I use now in my work. I observe, probe, examine and document how active processes mark the surfaces of objects, human and non-human. I trace complicated histories through accumulated marks of use and adaptation. I weigh assumptions and misperceptions surrounding the appearance and meaning of marks. And I consider the human body as artifact, examining the way its experience is translated into intentional marks or insignia.

The work that I make documents my explorations and discoveries; the artifacts I create record the paths I have traveled, marking my passage in the world. Graphic design, film and photography are the language I use to communicate what I have learned.