Fluid Materialisms in Contemporary Art, 1960s-Present


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Visual and Environmental Studies


This dissertation traces uses and representations of water in post-1960s contemporary American art, focusing on instances in which water functions as a figure for a specific mode of convergence between ecological thought and artistic practice. The term “fluid materialism” is used to describe how artists have turned to water to temporalize matter and materialize time, setting in motion a distinctly ecological and process-based perspective on the world. These fluid materialisms are substantive artistic efforts to theorize and materialize interconnections between humans and nonhumans, and to grapple with spiritual, ethical, and environmental questions amidst climate change. Further, a deeper engagement with water and its fluidity in contemporary art opens up methodological possibilities, offering alternatives to conventional art historical periodization.