Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

MFA (Master of Fine Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Farrin, Laurel

First Committee Member

Kanouse, Sarah

Second Committee Member

Hettmansperger, Sue

Third Committee Member

Rock, Neal

Fourth Committee Member

Ratcliff, David


This work is regarded as casting symbolic spells: spells for the health of degraded prairie remnants, the thriving of bats, fearlessness, romantic love. Spells are a call for transformation, and images of transformation occur throughout the work - snakes molting, mummies decaying, insects in metamorphosis.

Whether examining a construction site or the end of a relationship, the author is asking herself "when is change good and when is it catastrophic?"

Right now the author is looking closely at punk, witchy contemporary artists like Rosy Keyser, Maria Loboda, Marisa Merz, Victor Man, and Sterling Ruby. The author is also influenced by artists who smash a lot of pictures together, or have an overwhelming "Google Image Search" aesthetic like Isa Genzken, Anne de Vries, and Camille Henrot. At the same time, the author is drawn to old, mysterious, precious things (Viking runes, Taureg amulets, Hilma af Klint paintings, archaeological digs) and have an abiding love of altarpieces, medieval objects, Botticelli, and Van der Weyden.

Depictions of the Expulsion from the Garden serve as regular references. In them, the author finds an entwinement of her interest in ecological and romantic upheaval and a relationship to the body and touch that is both tender and precarious. The author wants to make the work that's about all the inexhaustible things: love, death, history, sex, mysticism, family, nature. It's not there yet, but she is working to make them happen.

Public Abstract

This is a small collection of photographs of artwork made at the University of Iowa and an accompanying artist statement.




vi, 36 pages


Copyright 2016 Emma Steinkraus

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