Date of Award

Fall 2013

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Joseph Siry

Second Advisor

Sharon Carnahan


What are we saying to children when we leave the creativity to others in a visual environment, infused with “attitude”, snobbery, acquisitiveness and Pollyanna innocence? We’re saying that we approve this message. Visual arts teach media literacy in an atmosphere that implicitly uses vices to secure attention. School experiences cannot compete. Parents and teachers, pleading incompetence, pass undiscerning choices to the next generation. Educational illustration typically amounts to copy-machine ready, poorly drawn, saccharin cartoons. Standards exemplified by the likes of Szyk, Holling and others lie hidden on the shelves. Dismay and consternation over the failure to plumb the depths of humor and insight defer to the powerful convenience of the copy machine. Saturation in media environments indoctrinates and disarms our ability to think through opinions and compulsions. Flexible resemblance works in the small world of painted images and in large media environments that conflate sentiment with material goods and milestones with products for purchase. Developing the ability to discern the attributes of our visual world as well as learning that we can express ourselves artistically allows us to fulfill an important aspect of our destiny as human beings. I focus on producing artwork in watercolor, an antiquated medium. My studies began before the advent of digital media and before word of painting’s irrelevance spread to my Midwestern art school.

Rights Holder

Mary K. Maloney Johnson