Engaging both the aesthetic and cognitive aspects of objects in visual space

Plan Author

  • Ethan Minkema, 2016

Fields of Concentration

  • Psychology
  • Sculpture

Sample Courses

Project Description

An exhibition of two- and three-dimensional artwork.

Faculty Sponsors

  • Tim Segar
  • Tom Toleno

Outside Evaluator

  • William Brayton, Hampshire College


This Plan is a study of sculpture and psychology that engages both the aesthetic and cognitive aspects of objects in visual space. Sculpture is a thing rather than an image. It has qualities that that can be inferred through its tangible physical presence on space, which surrounds it, as well as the static “visual fact” that constitutes what we see from a given point of observation. As the viewer moves through physical space these static “visual facts” compile into a tangible experience of the sculptural object. A paper titled “Illuminated Surfaces: Donald Judd’s Installations in Aluminum” is complemented by a collection of the artist’s own work in wood and metal.


Through my work in sculpture I have set about a process of sublimating these memories from things that haunt me into physical objects in such a way as that I can transfer them fully from myself onto the object; then put this object down, and give it the rest we both deserve. This rest allows the signifier to live on as physical objects baring the trace of the lived experience that determined them. Through this interplay I set about establishing a logic of display which function to order both the aesthetic and emotional aspects of the works, experienced by moving through the physical space and assessing the objects in relation to one another as a whole: as an inventory of traces.

To this day, one of the chief enigmas that accompany Judd’s public mythos is the fact that the works he produced in the beginning of his career in sculpture were more or less stylistically and conceptually the same as those he would create till the end of his career. These consistencies in production contribute to the notion that Judd emerged into the art world fully formed, such that experimentation was not necessary. While I would argue that experimentation and refinement is visible through the progression of his work, this consistency is particularly evident once he decided to forego fabricating objects himself. This sudden shift to a near repetition of forms had not been as present in his prior works. This appearance of being “fully formed” has more to do with the ideas underwriting the works themselves.


Plan was helpful in my developing an installation practice, as well as practical studio art skills. The most interesting part of my Plan was the large and diverse section on gallery views, in tradition materials, to varying ends both concurrent to the sculptural tradition of the past and in line with the contemporary zeitgeist. Marlboro has honed my drive to continue to generate additional bodies of work without academic necessity; this is invaluable.