Date of Award

Summer 8-27-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Blake, Marty


aesthetics, art, consciousness, education, nature, Transcendentalism

Subject Categories

Art Education | Arts and Humanities | Education | Fine Arts | Philosophy


The purpose of this study is to investigate the philosophy, art, methods, and outcomes of the Transcendentalist movement in 19th century America, with the aim of identifying strategies for creative practice that may inspire artists and educators in the 21st century. In the introductory section, the need for such an inquiry is established. Correlations are drawn between transcendental art from China, India, and America, in order to enrich the conversation by examining how ideas of transcendentalism, art, and social change are approached from different cultural perspectives. The historical context and philosophical roots of the American Transcendentalists is summarized, followed by an analysis of their views on nature, art, consciousness, and the role of the artist or poet in society. Case studies of the Hudson River School and the Luminists are then explored, encapsulating how transcendentalist ideas were expressed through visual media. Next is an examination of how the transcendentalists developed their ideas through creative journaling and how they integrated their philosophy into children's education, emphasizing the importance of nature and art in cognitive development. The final section covers the esoteric concept of psycho-aesthetics and scientific findings on synaesthesia, adding credibility to the transcendentalists' views regarding how art interacts with systems of sensory perception. This leads into a discussion of the soul and the aesthetic philosophy of rasa as presented in the Vedas and Upaniṣads. The author then describes how she synthesized elements of her research into her visual thesis. Finally, the author maintains that meaningful social change is possible when people are awakened, through art, to their relationship to nature and to a sense of self that is transcendental.


Open Access



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