Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Department of Art


Ann Clarke

Second Advisor

Peter Beasecker


Ceramic;Cowboy;Gender;Identity;Manifest Destiny;Sculpture

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts


This thesis dissects the experience of gender in public and private spaces utilizing lessons gathered as a “horse girl.” The concept and experience of being “woman” is navigated through various value systems drawn from Indigenous philosophies, government treaties, the queer experience, the history of the cowboy, familial story-telling, and personal life accounts. The Americanized, Western worldview of gender is analyzed and critiqued. This research discusses the implications the era of “Manifest Destiny” had on the colonization of land, bodies, and ultimately the contemporary idea of identity. I employ the cowboy as a vessel for translating these histories and identities. Our idea of the cowboy is draped in the masculine dressings of the silver screen of Hollywood and spun out of pop-culture folklore. All the while, cowboys were historically impoverished, commonly persecuted individuals from the POC and LGBTQ populations. They have sat offstage, as their culture and identities are cherry-picked and rebranded by the media. I contend with and question these experiences, histories, and American value systems in large-scale figurative ceramic sculptures. Craft materials and processes relating to “women’s work” are paired with these sculptures. The practice of the modern artist is critiqued and the artist is related to a consumer working in conflict with the land-based identity politics discussed in this thesis. I consider what we owe to our community from our consumptive practice. Ultimately, I question the artist’s production and its relationship with the white box of the gallery with its considerable history as the enforcer of the European-colonial identity.


Open Access

Included in

Fine Arts Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.