Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


“Our Gang”

The process of scooping up earth with a little blue spoon taught me to dig deeper. My ceramic sculptures of imaginative but vulnerable children begins with close observation and builds a rich visual memory. My memories of my elementary school classmates fused with photographic references provide rich resources for the children in Our Gang.

In my studio I draw the figure out with the bone structure, so I can see how to move the parts without losing the anatomy. Planning and measuring on a pre-made guide for uniformity and precise measurements is important in keeping the size of a small child. When the porcelain paper clay is stable after sculpting the body, I cut and hollow it out, then reassemble the figure. Hollowing out the piece is representative of the process of how we change with time and are molded to become adults, we lose some of our innocence as we grow, I depict the inner child in the adult character. The firing of the work is symbolic of how the lessons we learn in life can harden our outer image. Decorating the piece with powder pastels and encaustics brings the figure to life and engages the viewer’s memory of their past.

My kids in the “Our Gang” exhibition are honest, fearless, achievers and survivors. These memories are fused with imagination and embody the spirit of a time period when television was rare, neighbors looked out for each other and Saturday movies, baseball games and the ability to roam and play in our neighborhoods without fear were a part of our everyday life.

Children have big imaginations; they play, make and observe. Their imaginative experience is displayed in how they represent themselves to the world…I call this innocence. Their fantasies can become limited by their parents’ fears in seeking to protect their child. Children are open to influences, when limited in their ability to explore, their imaginations can become starved and lost.

Over the past few years I noticed that some people will not let their guard down to understand the sculptural children as presented; they are resistant to exploring their memories of childhood. My goal is to be relatable; and my work reaches out to spark memories of childhood.

When people view my work, some express sadness, while others experience happiness. I believe their response stems from their mood. I know within each little story, there is a memory instilled in the piece and immortalized in the permanence of ceramic.

Take a moment, enter the child’s world and appreciate the child within us all.


Linda Ganstrom Professor of Art

Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type



© 2019 Jacque McDonald


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