Token is a thesis body of work that combines two and three-dimensional printmaking and sculpture techniques, to highlights contemporary issues and poetry through the lens of a fable. This body of work deals with how culturally relevant information is spread by using traditional storytelling to reveal, with a certain level of absurdity, an underlying lesson, warning, or teachable moment.
In the work, the tooth is a symbol of payment or sacrifice and in our contemporary capitalist world, everything costs something. In this reality, the number of teeth lost demonstrates who you are, what you have and what you have had to sacrifice. This exchange of currency in a tooth-based economy fable brings to light the severity of the inequality present in today’s culture. For example, the Pink Tax, the fact that feminine products cost more than the equivalent male products, could go unnoticed when just a few dollars differ, but the sacrifice of an extra tooth cannot be ignored.
Material and audience interaction also play a role in the thesis work. As the viewer walks across the wooden platform, they experience a give in the material, movement the viewer must then compensate for while walking. The exaggeration of steel supports creates a barrier to convey otherness or separation while remaining transparent. The reference of time is present as the cast iron teeth begin rusting down the mortar head. The idea is similar to the collection of charms on a bracelet but uses the collection of teeth. This presentation, however, conjures reference to the creation of a “fools stone”, and points to a lack of stability or knowledge. The sheer number of teeth presented throughout the work shows diversity in physical form and in concept.
Fine Arts Studio (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Art (CAD)
Eileen Feeney Bushnell
Johnson, Kathleen Marie Ripton, "Token" (2020). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus