Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Sam Van Aken

Second Advisor

Jude Lewis


Atlantic salmon, fly fishing, land use, Onondaga Lake watershed, research-based art, the archive


I track the often imperceptible: ideological undercurrents that fade in and out of comprehension, the hidden knotted roots of cultural mythologies, historical specters conjured anew... It can feel nearly impossible to name the narratives and logic embedded in the spaces we inhabit. Mythologies rooted in excess, exclusion, rampant expansion, and extraction are contrived to justify the sacrifice of peoples, cultures, and lands. My studio practice unearths these ideologies through place-specific materials, (counter-) archives, and traced histories.

In this thesis I use the practice of fly fishing to trace the historical ecology of the Onondaga Lake watershed. To support this framing, I weave together the themes I have focused on throughout my graduate studies, which include historical evolutions in ways of seeing, archiving, and relating to land.


Open Access



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