Project Description


1) This project focuses on the concept of nostalgia and how it is interwoven into our ideas about family and domestic space.  Specifically, the theme of nostalgia and self will be examined through the work of artist Joseph Cornell and photographers Sally Mann and Francesca Woodman. Academic work on domestic space in fall and winter quarters inspired a personal examination of identity and history through memories of the domestic spaces of my own life. I will be using the work of Cornell, Mann, and Woodman on the concept of nostalgia to guide my investigation.

2) This project has three main learning objectives. The first is to investigate the meaning of nostalgia in art, psychology, society, and personal memories. Second, to explore the life and work of three artists who inspire my own creative process: Joseph Cornell, Francesca Woodman, and Sally Mann. Third, is to create art in the form of assemblage boxes inspired by the work of Joseph Cornell with the incorporation of black and white photographs. The boxes will be a new artistic format for me to dive into and the photographs will give me more experience with the process of shooting and printing film, a practice I have become passionate about over fall and winter quarters.

3) Readings (and film) that will inform the study are:

Joseph Cornell: Master of Dreams by Diane Waldman, published in 2006 (This book will inform my work with assemblage and will lend me a great deal of knowledge on one of the most well respected American artists of our time)

Francesca Woodman by Corey Keller, Julia Bryan-Wilson, and Jennifer Blessing, published in 2013 (This book will serve as inspiration for my examination of identity in black and white photography and provide background information about an artist who’s work I truly admire)

Immediate Family by Sally Mann and Reynolds Price, published in 2005 (This book is a compilation of Mann’s photographic work that is focused heavily on the themes of family and the childhood experience. These images will inspire my work in black and white photography dealing with nostalgia and my own childhood. )

What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann directed by Steven Cantor, created in 2005 (This feature-length documentary film about Sally Mann will supplement the images in Immediate Family and give me a context and deeper understanding of her work that motivates me to create meaningful photographs of my own)

The Psychology of…Nostalgia by Edge Staff, published in 2012 (This article will give me insight into the history of the term “nostalgia” and how it affects the human psyche) This article can be found at:

The Psychology of Nostalgia by Barbara Isanski, published in 2008 (This article will give me a simple scientific look at the concept of nostalgia) This article can be found at:

Nostalgia: Past, Present, and Future by Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, Jamie Arndt, and Clay Routledge, published in 2008 (This article will give me an in depth, scholarly look at the social implications of nostalgia)

4) The article titled Nostalgia: Past, Present, and Future will be the reading that I give to the entire group for seminar discussion.



5) This project takes on the form of assemblages or “box art”, reminiscent of the work of Joseph Cornell, to explore the theme of nostalgia. Each box will represent a different part of the domestic spaces of my past: the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, porch, and “hearth” of the house I grew up in. Each box will include photographs that I shoot and print, print from old family negatives, or a combination of the two. Experimentation with “sandwiched negatives” will create the ethereal feeling of memory. The boxes will also include found objects or possessions that somehow correspond with the image and subject of each individual box. This format will be a way to incorporate inspiration from all three of the artists I am studying, my passion for black and white photography, and my theme of nostalgia within the realm of domestic space.

6) The schedule for this project will keep track of the specific work done each week of the quarter including the time spent writing about ideas, photographing, printing, looking for objects, assembling boxes, doing reflective writing, reading and taking notes, managing a WordPress site, attending meetings, and taking a visit to the Seattle Art Museum to see works by Joseph Cornell.



7) The body of work at the end of spring quarter will include 5-6 finished assemblage pieces as well as work prints and a polished WordPress site containing 1-2 page essays on the significance of each reading and how it informs the artwork, and photo documentation of each box with a corresponding statement about the process of creating it and the meaning behind it. A binder complete with reading notes, conceptualization notes and sketches, and class meeting notes will also be handed in. I will be evaluated based on the outcome and effectiveness of my artwork, and my ability to explore and reflect upon the idea of nostalgia and how it relates to domestic space.



29 thoughts on “Project Description

    • The exploration of nostalgia through assemblage art and black-and-white photography is intriguing. I’m curious to see how the incorporation of jumping shell elements might add a unique twist to these domestic spaces, creating a bridge between the past and contemporary experiences. Looking forward to the final pieces!

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  7. Joseph Cornell (1903–1972) was revered in his lifetime as a modern American master. He had no formal training in art but, influenced by surrealism, he began making collages and boxed assemblages in the early 1930s. Throughout his life he read voraciously about the great figures of European romanticism and symbolism. However, this diffident bachelor, who never travelled far from the home he shared with his mother and invalid brother in the suburbs of New York, found inspiration not only in the romantic ideals of a distant age but also in prosaic, everyday objects and materials. With items found in local junk shops and dime stores – cheap reproductions, maps, toys, marbles, springs, feathers, sequins – he created boxes filled with fantasy and longing. His poetic sensibility was recognised by many in the late 1950s as original and unique, albeit one not in tune with the prevailing artistic tendencies of the day. Reviews of his first major retrospective held at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1967 hailed the show as ‘an exhibition of unforgettable beauty’ and described Cornell himself as ‘legendary’

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