Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07

Student: Tomas Majcherski

Mentor: Dr. Kenneth Sacks

Consultant: Earl Foley

Domains: Performing Arts/Philosophy/Visual Arts


Title: Art as Language;


My senior project examined the being of both abstract expressionism and jazz and observed how they function as a medium of communication between the artist and viewer. My project attempted to find the specific relationship between the viewer, artist, and art itself, and the way in which this relationship comes about. I then attempted to bring my findings into practice and created a set of paintings and songs, trying to exemplify the use of paradox in form and creation of angst and fullness in the viewer. My project was inspired by the works of artists Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and others. 


Art as Language


The intent of my senior project was to give me a project where I could experiment in both the artistic mediums of paint and music, and also give me an opportunity to write a philosophy essay on art and music. I chose abstract expressionism and jazz as topics as they both interest me greatly and I have been exposed to both movements through museums, art history, and music.

My painting began on small canvases. I used small brushes and oil paint. Eventually I acquired two large canvases and a medium sized, and began painting in oil based house paint and large house painting brushes. My style changed to a more flowing one encompassing more movement into the colors and larger blocks of colors, often times using fewer colors also.

I composed 5 songs for my musical performance and performed them with a group that had rehearsed only once. MY songs were composed over a few sessions at a piano. I orchestrated the tunes for two lead horns and a rhythm section and wrote out charts. I wrote one tune to a Bb blues, one tune with a boss nova/cubano rhythm, one swing piece, one ballad, and one fast piece inspired by the modal music of other Jazz musicians. I gave one performance which was recorded on audio and videotape.

My original essay was done in many parts concerning specific ideas I had about the aesthetics of jazz and abstract expressionism. However, under the direction of my mentor, I reworked my essay into two parts. One was a historical section that explained the aesthetic philosophies of Kant, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, and draws thesis from my view that there is a turn towards the realization of Truth in art through the three philosophers, and that the three were saying very similar things. I then created a second section of the essay where I created a thesis stating that abstract expressionism and jazz improvisation are a type of metaphysics in happening, and went on to point out the particulars of jazz improvisation and abstract expressionism and write two art critiques. My community member, Earl Foley, reviewed and gave suggestions on the first part of my essay, and I went through a series of personally corrected drafts and drafts corrected by Dr. Sacks. Eventually I finished the essay and completed the senior project with my presentation.


Heidegger, Martin. Basic Writings. New York; Harper Collins, 1993.

Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Judgment. Translated by J.H. Bernard. Amherst; Prometheus Books, 2000.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy. Translated by Douglas Smith. New York; Oxford Press, 2000

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus. Translated by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness. Abingdon; Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2005.

Community Member (Details)

My Community member was originally Greg Horowitz, but I due to a lack of communication and inability to communicate with him except by email, I found a new member, Earl Foley. Mr. Foley used to be a professor of philosophy and now teaches philosophy classes locally and also writing a book.