Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Philip Field

Second Advisor

Dr. Nancy Moyer

Third Advisor

Lenard Brown


The images depict an exploration of an expressive, abstract aesthetic that delineates visual content with symbolism: depicted by color, iconography, and form. The artistic intention underlying the imagery is to evoke emotional awareness of the possibility that chthonic forces of nature—the mysterious life force generated by earth and the universe—in contrast to man-made synthetic powers—technology, science, machines, war, and ideas related to control over nature—are manifested as a dichotomy of experience between female and male; the forces of nature as the female principle and synthetic powers as the male principle. The imaginative elements in the imagery use colors and forms that are symbolic. I depict irrational spaces and biomorphic shapes, and rational spaces with mechanical shapes, comprised of colors that depict either dominant intensity, or dissolution, of the divergent or emergent entities.

Included in this paper are historical and personal perspectives that delineate the emergence of control over nature by man, which corresponded to the subsumation of the female earth goddesses of fertility and life. With the rise of male sky gods, who controlled dominion over death, resurrection, the netherworld, human sacrifice and war, nature became a force to contain and conquer. Herein the male principle is equated with synthetic power that emerged as technological artifacture and modes of control over the chthonic and the unknown; to effect the predictability of the future; characterized as the antithesis of nature as fundamental to the female principle. Synthetic power consists in technology: tools, weapons, and machines; as the concomitant arbiter of order, science, the rational, the objective, and the universal. Chthonic force consists in nature, lifeforce, nurturance and growth; evoking mystery, danger, chaos, and is equated with the subjective, the intuitive, the irrational, and the personal.

Understanding the ideas that have personally informed the paintings in this series is not necessary to appreciate the artistic sensibilities inherent in the work. The symbolic iconography and colors are subjective, and are not designed to illustrate in a realistic and evident manner the ideas that inform the work, but rather to evoke an emotional and ineffable communication that is expressed through abstract imagery.


Copyright 2001 Kathryn M. Thorn-Simpson. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American