Date of Graduation
College of Creative Arts
Intermedia & Photography
What the Frost Killed is the culmination of two years spent memorializing the dead plants and animals of my immediate surroundings. Primarily focusing on birds who die as a result of human activity, I seek to pay attention to and elevate the individual victims of a systemic problem. Inspired by Ancient Greek tragedy, I engage with the ethical dilemmas inherent in our collective actions to express the strange, beauty of these unsung deaths.;My thesis body of work draws on a decade of research exploring the intersection between political history and ancient tragic literature. As I studied these stories written in dead languages, I was perpetually struck by the way they seemed to speak to the present moment. Now, as I make my work, I express the relevance of the past to the present both in its content and the process of its creation. After encountering my dead subjects in my daily life, I digitize their image on a flatbed scanner, then reinterpret these images using the 19th century process of cyanotype, combining old and new techniques from the history of photography to create a specific aesthetic. The cyanotype medium lends a characteristic blue color, high contrast, and soft image quality that enhances the tragic mood of my prints, while digital manipulation allows me to render some of my work on a monumental scale.;What the Frost Killed, the titular piece, began as a project documenting what died in my garden the week of the 2016 election, which coincided with the first hard frost of the year. As November 2016 and the politically turbulent year that followed affected me profoundly, I view the exhibition as a whole to be a product of my response to the national climate. My thesis presents funerary images of birds and flowers, mourning for the victims of a terrible year.
Blair, Allison Semele, "What the Frost Killed" (2018). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 5221.