Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Mary Ann Caws

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


Simply put, my Capstone project is a creative study on the nature of longing, centered on the premise that longing is an innate response to being alive. The challenge of the project was to bring the nature of longing down to its essence. I accomplished this through the use of two mediums of expression: photography and poetry. Taking the photos allowed me to visually capture a childlike perspective and imagination, while following an antique rocking horse on a singular walk in Central Park, where he experiences newfound freedom after having been stored in an attic for half a century. As he roams through this recognizable New York City location, he awakens to a familiar, unshakable sense of a missing presence. The series of photographs depicts the horse’s search for his lost memories while outside on a beautiful summer day.

Accompanying the photographs is an economically worded, four page poem in three parts. It is written from the now-adult child’s perspective, placing her in dialog with the horse who once belonged to her. Upon reuniting with her childhood companion, a profound joy is discovered, as she tells of finding him again, recalls their past adventures together and describes the broader resonance of this close, best-friendship.

Evocation of a surreal, fairy tale-like scenario, characterized by the search of a rocking horse and the return of his lost human child, explores a cross-species connection with an inanimate object. This is illustrative of, but does not form the crux of the project, as what their bond has come to mean over time and distance is more significant. The horse acts as a visual catalyst, expressing something surprising, while the poem’s narrative illustrates an important aspect of childhood companionship, shown in this unlikely return.

The dual nature of my individualized degree, is reflected synergistically through these two creative means of expression. My project is founded on a long-held theory that memory, attachment and longing are inherent, and perhaps best expressed through poetry. Presented alongside the photographs, the poem shows that a childhood connection to an object can be more than a personal tale and can echo something larger.

The attendant white paper expounds on ideas associated with this concept and discusses the process involved with the project itself. Comparative research with additional sources on related topics are incorporated, as are several excerpts from other poems, lyrics and quotes. Augmenting the narrative, the paper occupies its place in a conversational lineage on: painting, literature, film, rocking horses, memories and the varieties of longing. It correlates with thoughts on pertinent aspects of history, human development, science, philosophy and ecology. Together, the project and the white paper address what propels us to connect with our “others,” and the implications of doing so. I honor the origins of this state of being by asserting that longing is not simply a normal part of life, but an entirely essential component of the human condition.


This Capstone Project is comprised of 75 photographs and a poem.

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