Fall 2015 Works in Progress

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Hanover Inn – Hayward Lounge


Opening Remarks and Introductions by MALS Chair, Donald Pease.
Presentation by MALS students Nicole S. Williams, Kuo-Pin Lin, Jennifer Decker, and Sarah Decker.


Nicole S. Williams

Emerging from the Room: Reevaluating the Role of Gender Exclusivity as it pertains to Women’s Representation within the Mainstream Art World in the Twenty-First Century

Regine Rosenthal, Julia Rabig and Juliette Bianco

Women’s artistic representation and inclusion in the mainstream art world have historically been marginalized due to male driven social and artistic ideals, which have long determined what qualifies as “great” art and, in turn, the value of the work created and the recognition of the artist. In an effort to have their work more widely represented within the Western art market and to be displayed within institutions focused art, women have created gender exclusive museums, galleries, exhibitions, and collections. While women-only art spaces were born out of necessity starting in the 1970s, the use of gender exclusivity as a method of working towards greater parity within various art establishments remains strong in the twenty-first century. However, based on recent statistics focused on women in the arts, unequal pay and lack of representation are still prevalent issues in the mainstream art world. Now is the time to reevaluate the role of these gender exclusive museums and exhibitions in order to better understand the realities of gender parity within the contemporary Western art framework. Are there other methods that can be used to create a more balanced representation of all artists in museums? Achieving gender equality in the mainstream art world may mean leaving a room of one’s own in the past while seeking out new tenets for a more inclusive art practice.


Kuo-Pin Lin

Experience Based Education: The Power of Mural Making with Adolescents in Community−Based Art Programs

Francine A'Ness, Douglas Moody and Klaus Milich

The Philadelphia Mural Art Program (MAP) was conceived and founded in June of 1984 by muralist, educator, and community activist Jane Golden.  According to the Mural Art Program’s mission statement, as expressed on MAP's homepage: "We believe art ignites change. We create art with others to transform places, individuals, communities and institutions. Through this work, we establish new standards of excellence in the practice of public and contemporary art.  Our process empowers artists to be change agents, stimulates dialogue about critical issues, and builds bridges of connection and understanding.  We listen with empathetic ears to understand the aspirations of our partners and participants.  And through beautiful collaborative art, we provide people with the inspiration and tools to seize their own future" (Philadelphia Mural Art Program, 2015).  I purposefully selected the MAP as my research site because more than 1500 youth, ages nine through 18, participate in MAP community-based art education programs and workshops every year (Philadelphia Mural Art Program, 2015).  It was during my externship at MAP in 2013 and 2014, when I was teaching and leading the youth of the area to plan and execute the painting of  murals in the West Philadelphia community when I began to realize that the ethnographic youth community had much to offer. Murals provide a unique opportunity for young people to actively enhance their community while building healthy relationships with adult role models.  The combined involvement of students and community has afforded me a new experience in educating our young.


As an artist, I have found that working with adolescents and the community brings about a joined creativity that can be enriching in the final project.  My qualitative research combined with my own participation as a teaching artist in this program (MAP) will focus on a number of factors: art created with the purpose of generating positive change; art created by artists and people whose lives directly inform the subject matter; and art that contributes to the artistic development of adolescents and adults in community and within society.  Through my research I want to hear the voices and views of the young adults who spent significant after-school time in their adolescence in these out-of-school arts-based community learning programs.  I want to assess the impact of the program on former participants.  The stated goal of the MAP was positive development.  My overall goal is to research how to best serve our adolescent populations’ development into healthy, caring adults and human beings who have rich artistic and cultural experiences as individual active members of their communities and society at large.


Jennifer Decker

Understanding Class from a Privileged Space: the Distance between Academia and Actuality

Julia Rabig, Regine Rosenthal and Pati Hernandez

Investigating the complexities of socio-economics in America through a holistic academic approach is the intention of this project.  Interviews regarding employment, transportation, education, and health care are being gathered, transcribed and analyzed.  Additionally, the dialogue of each individual regarding their experiences in these arenas are being collected.  Furthermore, research on a broad range of socio-economic topics, including other case studies, are being examined.


It is the hope of this inquiry to scrutinize and begin to define the ‘dark space’ between perceptions of lower socio-economic statuses and the realities therein.


What has fallen into the gap which lies between perception and reality? This thesis research is an attempt to bring voices into the void created by economic classism in America.


Sarah Decker

A Branch of Honor or Fallen Leaf: Living beyond Family History

Tom Powers, Barbra Kreiger and Gary Lenhart

For twenty three years of my life I identified as one singular thing – a descendant of Mormon pioneers. This memoir is the story of my family and my own self-discovery to become independent of my inherited identity. Being aware of one’s personal history is a major component of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is the culture that I grew up in and the identity that I attached my physical and eternal well-being to. Every decision in my life was based on the perception of myself as a Mormon and pioneer descendant. In my late twenties when I realized that I had homosexual desires my identity took a paradigm shift. This memoir illustrates the minor and major choices of my own, along with those of my family members that have left their impression on my personal character. The main focus of this work is about how an identity can be fashioned, maintained, and transformed to form an independent human being.


I have chosen the format of the personal narrative or memoir because of the tradition in my family of journal keeping and genealogical reverence. I believe that the personal narrative is also a powerful vehicle for drawing out the complexities of human relationships. As the narrative of my stories will show there are many complexities and contradictions attributed to my family history. My intention is to build upon these prior narratives to create a modern history that I can attach to the current record. It is my desire through this thesis to share my journey and family history in order to provide context and inspiration to others with similar experiences to my own. 


The WIP event is a bi-annual event first created in 2011 by the MALS Alumni Council. This event presents an important opportunity for students to present their theses research and to receive feedback from alumni, faculty and fellow students.