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Florida Gulf Coast University
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Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
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Senior Project FALL 2017

2017 has been a tumultuous year for politics, free speech, and global warfare. With the proliferation of technology that allows near-constant access to news and media, it can be hard to escape a daily barrage of bad news. Some people, understandably, become apathetic to politics that happen far away from their daily lives. My piece aims to create a dialogue about nuclear proliferation, which has been looming on the backburner of public discourse since the end of the Cold War in 1991. My work is informed by the belief that all art, maps, and bombs are inherently political. warhead aims to immerse the audience in a visual representation of the history and a possible future of the Earth in the Atomic Age. My senior exhibition is in part inspired by the history of hundreds of nuclear accidents and close calls; for example the Goldsboro, North Carolina’s “near miss” of 1961, in which 3 men died. North Carolina was saved from a nuclear detonation by one of six safety switches after two nuclear bombs crashed to the ground from a B-52, (declassified 2013). The list of near misses grows longer as more are episodically declassified. Although it may seem a distant history, nuclear weapons testing, construction, and degradation in reality continues today. warhead aims to demonstrate that while it may seem we are distant from the effects of nuclear warheads, they are in fact stored all throughout the world. Perhaps there are some flying above us in airplanes now.

Foremost, I am an ecological artist and as so, my work is always in the context of the human relationship to Earth. The work of many thousands of women precedes my own, as women have led the
forefront of nuclear disarmament since the 1950s. It is my hope that my project will inspire my audience to research the history and take a stance for or against nuclear proliferation, when The Doomsday Clock was 4 minutes to midnight, before it started accounting for climate change in 2007. The Doomsday Clock is maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and is currently set at 2.5 minutes till midnight, the closest to Earth’s man-made destruction since 1953 when the Soviets began testing nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have a long history of atomic testing and accidents that will most likely continue into the future. I don’t think it’s radical to say that the risks of extinction and pollution may not be worth it for the protection of mutually assured destruction. Future art historians will not find our pottery or pyramids, our great structures, or fine art, if it is all blown up. At this rate, our ancestors will find our islands of trash and radioactive particles.

My piece utilizes a Galls-Peters map projection, one type of map that most accurately displays relative landmass. The  boundary lines of each country are not depicted, mirroring the way both fallout radiation and weapons are not guaranteed to be confined within a specific country’s boundaries. In warhead, my brushstrokes represent the arbitrary nature of nuclear explosions. Once the paint was applied, it was allowed to flow freely, just as fallout is carried unpredictably by the winds, and the explosive yield cannot be accurately calculated before detonation. These pools of paint represent fallout, creating a map of a very possible future. My painting style is influenced by abstract expressionism and the Dadaists especially. It also serves as a visual retelling of the history of nuclear weapons testing, 2000 of which have been conducted by the US alone since 1945.