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1. Haines, Nicolin Baird. Abnormality: Formal Explorations in Adaptation and Mutation.

Degree: MFA, College of the Arts / School of Art, 2017, Kent State University

Alluding to botanical forms and cumulative abnormalities, my work confronts the viewer by providing a surreal embellishment of possible future mutations. I establish an unsettling reality that examines how our exploitation of the natural world impacts life. Through explorations of texture and use of ceramic material my sculptures provide a visceral assessment of this impact. Consecutively, Earth’s history has demonstrated its ability to adapt and survive through calamity and destruction. Like an infection or disease, human activity is the planet’s biggest threat, causing repercussions detrimental to all life. I examine these ideas by creating objects afflicted with their own mutations that are both seductive and threatening, and by doing so I hope to create a moment of reflection on the impingement of our existence.I am consistently drawn to botanical species as inspiration for my work and I use them as references to create organic forms. I reference seed pods because of their seductive qualities while suggesting environmental distress through mutation. I am interested in the function of a seed pod as an inherent origin to life and the symbolic duality of the world as a seed pod for mankind. I obtain insight for rendering mutation through research and recognition of the impact of pollution and toxic waste. This is where I examine the impacts of our existence and incorporate a balance between beauty and disgust. I research visual references relating to seed pods, vegetative species, and mutation. Through a combination of slips, glazes, and numerous firings I arrange nuances of color upon a cracked and scale-like surface with foaming craters illustrating a reaction to mankind’s continuous disregard to our environment. In suggesting dramatic mutations, I am carefully establishing a system of growth and existence while imagining possibilities of evolution. To emphasize this balance of a beautiful yet hazardous world, I have re-appropriated large oil drums and painted them white to function as pedestals for my work. As a man-made object tied to industry, these oil drums help to frame the work specifically between the consequences of pollution or toxic waste and its impact upon the natural world. The tops of the oil drums contain my own toxic solutions of reclaimed stoneware, porcelain slip, food coloring, and canola oil, imitating the coloring and textures within the ceramic sculptures which rest upon them, also alluding to the connection between pollution and nature’s fight to survive. Amidst seduction and disgust, I want my work to act as a catalyst for self-reflection on the human impact on Earth and to facilitate confrontations where the viewer cannot help but become drawn to the work and therefore can no longer ignore our part in environmental demise. Advisors/Committee Members: Johnson, Peter (Advisor).

Subjects/Keywords: Fine Arts; Ceramic Sculpture; Mutation; Abnormality; Heterozygosity; Pomocentricity; Environmental Art; Toxicity; Human Impact

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APA (6th Edition):

Haines, N. B. (2017). Abnormality: Formal Explorations in Adaptation and Mutation. (Masters Thesis). Kent State University. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Haines, Nicolin Baird. “Abnormality: Formal Explorations in Adaptation and Mutation.” 2017. Masters Thesis, Kent State University. Accessed May 26, 2018.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Haines, Nicolin Baird. “Abnormality: Formal Explorations in Adaptation and Mutation.” 2017. Web. 26 May 2018.


Haines NB. Abnormality: Formal Explorations in Adaptation and Mutation. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. Kent State University; 2017. [cited 2018 May 26]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Haines NB. Abnormality: Formal Explorations in Adaptation and Mutation. [Masters Thesis]. Kent State University; 2017. Available from: