Carson Fox: Artist Statement
I make art out of materials for which I feel a heartfelt attraction, privileging goods and techniques that seem to best answer the needs of the work above all.
My natural inclination is to be interested in objects and themes that have been left out of the history of art, feeling a particular kinship with marginalized “craft” materials, and the popular illustrations and folk art of the Victorian era. Like the Victorians, the fragility and brevity of life terrifies me, and one way I cope with it is to make things; thereby proving my existence through the evidence of my labor.
By nature, printmaking lends itself well to the investment of labor, and my current prints support this edict, while stylistically referring to Victorian wood engravings. By scanning original images and extensively retooling them in Photoshop, I create bucolic landscapes of birds, butterflies, and flowers using the tropes of beauty, yet expressing an undercurrent of anxiety in the excesses and the crowding of the compositions. To compound this feeling, I have manipulated a number of these images by piercing them with thousands of holes, suggesting invisible routes made visible, a tangible history of my own industry, while transforming the paper into a lacy map. Other intaglio, screen print, and lithographic prints employ multiple layers of color printing, and were originally inspired in their use of straightforward, declarative text by illustration captions in the moralistic, “Royal Path of Life,” published in 1881.
Flowers have dominated much of my sculpture and prints over the past few years. I originally began to use silk flowers in my pieces because they aptly contributed to the idea of memorials, which was a reoccurring theme in my work. My first floral works were literal monuments devoted to feelings about myself or for people I knew. From there, they expanded into a territory of greater fantasy, promoting gardens that denied death through their blatant artificiality. My most recent work is comprised of colored flower forms culled from my imagination, cast in plastic, and suspended on heavy pins. The pins allow me to drive the objects directly into the wall to create compositions on site.
In the louche excesses of craft stores, my heart sings. I adore the retinal bombardment of over flowing silk flower displays, the blatant seduction of glitter, and the narrative potential of artificial birds and butterflies as they lay dormant in their plastic packages. However, I also harbor deep admiration for the paintings of Mark Rothko, Josef Albers, and Richard Anuszkiewicz, whose influences can be felt in the arrangements and color juxtapositions of my recent work. I aspire to be informed by both the history of art and the dime store rapture of translucent plastic and sparkling diamond dust, while straddling the divide between painting and sculpture. Here, I hope to raise questions regarding the place of beauty in our contemporary art world, and the lingering biases against “low” materials and their associations with class and gender.