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Art & Life with Louise Fisher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Louise Fisher.

Louise, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I grew up on a farm in rural Iowa, where the prairie became my first art teacher. I’ve wanted to be an “artist” since I was in preschool, which is a bizarre miracle – considering that my mother works in retail and my father is a farmer. Despite my parents having no creative interests themselves, they’ve always been super supportive and taught me how to apply a Midwestern work ethic to my passion.

At the farm I had a lot of inspiring adventures. Even though the countryside could be lonely at times, I enjoyed the access to a peaceful landscape and quiet reflection. At night the sky was filled with stars and I often fell asleep under them to the sounds of insects in the prairie grass. During the day, I spent a lot of time trespassing private property to draw or write in the woods by myself. The spacious sky, distant horizon line and slow lifestyle all have stayed with me to inform current bodies of work.

Inevitably, my curiosity and ambition drew me out of rural Iowa to find a community who could relate to those strange, creative impulses. I attended the University of Northern Iowa as an undergraduate, where I emphasized in printmaking and studied under Aaron Wilson and Tim Dooley of Midwest Pressed. However, I’ve always enjoyed working in a variety of media so my BFA exhibition included a mixed media installation of prints, cyanotypes and a video performance.

I took a year off after school and moved to Iowa City, where I helped revamp a community printmaking studio and collective called Iowa City Press Co-op at Public Space One (www.publicspaceone.com). Thanks to the University of Iowa, Iowa City is home to several visual artists and writers so there was a lot of interest in a space to publish visual or written work. The group grew from 5 members to over 30 in just a year!

In 2016 I moved to Phoenix to attend Arizona State University for my master’s degree. I live happily with my fiancé and two cats. Here, I am also emphasizing in printmaking but working in a variety of media.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
First, I become inspired by ideas. I’ve always been fascinated by the way time moves in cycles. The Iowa landscape taught me quite a bit about this when I was young: the stark change of seasons, the growth of crops, the movement of the stars across the sky. Repetition is evidence of time passed – this is why I find myself drawn to printmaking and photography as they both have the potential to create multiples of the same image.

After moving to my new home in Phoenix, I noticed how time is experienced differently in an urban setting. Early on, I experienced sleep loss due to the noise and light pollution. This observation led me into researching circadian rhythms: the measurement of time in the body. Excessive artificial lighting at night creates a 24/7-hour day, which the body cannot adjust to. Without sufficient darkness at night and sunlight during the day, hormonal secretions change rhythm and cause a myriad of health problems – irregular sleep being just one of them. I find the accuracy and sensitivity of the body’s internal clock endlessly intriguing.

There are two important series that I’m developing right now. The first is a series of large-scale prints, juxtaposing lit windows in an abstracted sky. I take these photographs around the city and in the desert to capture the transitional phase between day and night, and later on collage them in Photoshop. These collages are printed digitally on Asian paper and combined with other hand-drawn layers of plant shadows. The narrative is flexible, but I am referencing several things: cast shadows as an ancient clock, lit windows as evidence of human consciousness, and color gradients as the passing of time. The other major body of work is “Circadian”, a year-long process of taking long-exposure photographs every night. A lens less camera is placed near me as I sleep for several hours, capturing the artificial light in the environment onto the film inside the camera. The result is a long-exposure photograph with vivid color and soft focus, producing a dream-like image. I write down the time every night, as well as any dreams I remember. I’m interested in creating an image that represents the fragility of memory, dreams, and sleep. Ultimately, the Circadian photographs will become a large installation with the written documentation as an artist book.

The goal of my artwork is to educate but also to touch the viewer emotionally like a poem. I want to raise questions about the way we structure our time, and to encourage an appreciation for natural light in a world that never sleeps. When experiencing my work, I hope viewers can reconsider their relationship with the night and the importance of truly resting to make time for quiet reflection.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
The stereotype of the starving artist still has truth today, but I think it’s more closely associated with Modernism. Contemporary artists have the advantage of promoting themselves online, as well as the opportunity to work in academia, museums or other non-profit institutions. The art industry seems to have grown, however, I think the general public is still hesitant to support financially. I do think art should be accessible to everyone but at the same time, artists are quite generous already with their talents and time. When I pay for a piece, entry to an exhibition or workshop fees, I think about how that money will support the artist’s living or how it will help the artworld in general. We all need art to raise important questions, foster imagination, communicate human needs. Support the arts in cities by visiting museums, attending exhibitions and talking to artists at the opening, registering for workshops to learn a new skill, buying hand-made gifts, and following local artists on social media. One thing that’s amazing about Phoenix is the sheer amount of people who attend First Friday art crawls downtown. I would love to see people connecting with the artists and galleries outside of this event too! I also can’t stress how important grant-funded programs are to support artists and make creativity more accessible to the public.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Studio visits can be made by appointment for discussion and viewing work. My studio is located at Grant Street Studios (605 E Grant St, Phoenix). Send me a message at louisefisher@asu.edu to arrange something!

I also have several upcoming exhibitions. My thesis exhibition will be at the Harry Wood Gallery at ASU’s Tempe Campus during the last week of March, 2019. The opening reception will be Tuesday the 26th from 6-8pm. A local group show will also be at the Harry Wood Gallery in October called: Land [Muse]um: Artifacts & Inquiry. This exhibition will be on display from Tuesday Oct. 1st through Friday Oct. 12th. The opening is on Oct. 2 from 6-8pm, and I will be leading an interactive performance!

I will also have a solo exhibition at the University of Texas in Arlington in March and two group exhibitions in October in Laramie, Wyoming. For more updates on my work follow me on Instagram @louisefisherart. I occasionally teach workshops and have studio sales too!

Contact Info:

  • Address: ASU Grant Street Studios (Room 283), 605 E. Grant St Phoenix, AZ 85004
  • Website: louisefisherart.com
  • Email: louisefisher@asu.edu
  • Instagram: louisefisherart

Image Credit:
Louise Fisher

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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