29 MAY - 29 AUGUST 2008
In 2001, Mark Fox felt burdened by the possessions that crowded his Cincinnati studio, sometimes wondering if he owned them or they owned him. Rather than sell, give, or toss them away, however, Fox embarked on what he describes as a “meditation on ownership.” Using black ink on white paper and allowing some white to show through to form the details, over the next two years, he drew each of his belongings at full size or larger. Then, he meticulously cut out each object and painted its underside a shade of bright green, a color Fox recalls seeing when, as a child, he experienced a tornado:
The sky turned this weird color green and was amazingly beautiful, but at the base of the tornado, where it touched the earth, there was utter destruction. I saw houses being obliterated and debris flying up in the air. This marriage of beauty and destruction stuck with me . . . so this piece [Dust] had a lot to do with that, too, the idea of these black things being thrown up in the air; that in a moment your life can be changed dramatically through this event and objects really don’t mean that much.
By the time Fox had completed almost 2,000 cutouts, he was anxious to display them, and in 2003, he used different lengths of spring-tempered steel wire to pin a selection of them to a wall at the Cincinnati Museum of Art to form a large-scale installation he called Dust. For him, the title suggested the ephemeral nature of those things we tend to think of as permanent. Since then, he has installed Dust twice, each time using a different configuration and selection of drawings.
At Rice Gallery, Dust is installed on the largest wall to date, allowing Fox to explore how his relationship with the objects has changed:
The center of the wall is composed with fewer and smaller drawings, giving the center a kind of calm, which previous installations could not have. I wanted this ‘calm,’ readable center to be surrounded by a cacophony of indistinguishable imagery, as though the viewer were caught in the center of a storm. The plumb bob in the center is a nod to the fact that through randomness and chaos (a theme to much of my work), I believe there is order.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Mark Fox was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1963. He received a BFA from Washington University, St. Louis in 1985, and an MFA in painting from Stanford University in 1988. Solo exhibitions include The Peacock Flesh, Larissa Goldston Gallery, New York (2007), Cricket’s Song, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (2006), and Inchmeal, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, California (2005). His work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania. Mark Fox lives and works in New York.
Photos by Nash Baker © nashbaker.com