Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Karen Miller

Subject Categories

American Studies


storytelling, assemblage art, memory, ancestry, mythology, collage


What can I do with what I already have? How can I make of it something beautiful, or useful, or interesting? Over the past two and a half years, I have been creating wall sculptures and collages out of found objects that speak to the history of my family, the way the earth reclaims its space after being used by humans, and how our individual lives have impact beyond our recognition. The people we love, the things we have lost, the garbage and grief we try to bury: it doesn’t go away. It comes back to the surface in shapes possibly unrecognizable and often unexpected, and it is our job to take them back, with gratitude and wonder, and turn them into something else. My work here is a visual representation of that internal work, the excavation of familial trauma and societal disparagement, and the alchemization of that into a new way of looking at the world. In using the offcasts of my family I transform the trauma and pain of our lives into art that, if not beautiful, speaks to the richly layered and fascinating ways we make our lives in this world. Through examinations of storytelling and mythology, assemblage art, poetry, music, and feminist theory, I have collaged a new way of being.