Date of Degree
MFA (Master of Fine Arts)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
The title of this body of work, NOT A COUNTRY AT ALL, takes its name from a well-known passage of Willa Cather’s 1918 novel, My Antonia, in which she describes a first encounter with the Midwest landscape from the perspective from a settler-colonist family in the late 19th century. The main character describes the landscape as “not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.” Using this description as a point of departure, this thesis and corresponding exhibition responds to the implications of regarding land as material, and making or crafting as a claim to national identity. The national myth valorizes making: craft, labor, creativity, and settlement as the strength and unifying fabric of the nation. I propose that it is now our un-making that will bring us together: the point at which material resists artifice, land no longer yields to our desires, and storms of our creation but beyond our control grow strong. The following document consists of images of artworks from the corresponding thesis exhibition in printmaking, sculpture, and a work of prose-poetry that explores themes of nation, land, craft, ancestry, and climate change.
Americana, craft, land, material, nationalism, nostalgia
vi, 27 pages
Includes bibliographical references (page 27).
Copyright © 2017 Rachel Kauff
Kauff, Rachel. "Not a country at all." MFA (Master of Fine Arts) thesis, University of Iowa, 2017.