The latest work from Associate Professor Carson Fox was featured at the Linda Warren Projects in Chicago.
The term mimesis comes from the Greek word “mimeisthai” and was used by Plato when describing the role of artists. It means “imitation” and the imitation of nature recently took up residence as the title of the latest solo exhibition by Carson Fox, associate professor in the Adelphi University Department of Art and Art History.
Held at the Linda Warren Projects art gallery in Chicago from October 24–December 13, 2014, Mimesis aimed to capture the passage of history via works based on nature’s timepieces—namely, rocks, coral and trees. The exhibition marked the first time these separate collections received a dedicated exhibition en masse.
Fantastical rocks and minerals; coral coursing and reaching across the walls randomly while building on its greater structure; log piles, acorns and tree cross sections on a wall arranged into an explosive array of frozen arbores. It’s a representation of nature that translates into a powerful experience. It’s also a small glimpse into the world of an Adelphi professor who has an interest in time, and how it can be preserved.
“As a kid, I had a rock collection,” Fox said. “[It] received a lot of contemplation. …I was so fascinated with the idea that you could polish rocks and end up with these gorgeous things—that underneath that surface was all of this other information that was really beautiful, just waiting to be discovered.”
Now she can create it, adding and subtracting as she sees fit while paying homage to the works of art Earth creates on a daily basis. It’s like the ultimate extension of her own childhood fantasies, she explained.
Made of resin and hypnotic to look at, each completed mineral piece melds crystalline and geodic qualities that together represent colors of neon and rainbow side by side, a combination that is rarely found in nature.
“I’m never very dogmatic or true to the actual thing. I just use it as a springboard to create my own [work],” Fox said. “You can’t make up anything crazier that nature isn’t already doing.” This approach has allowed her to exercise her artistic license yet still remain true to her exhibition’s theme of mimicry.
Fox noted that the coral work within the exhibition was closely linked to her mineral and rock creations because the forms were similar.
“I was interested in the idea of nature, where you can create a rhythm of the form itself, and then repeat that endlessly to create something that suggests the natural form,” she said. “Because I could cut the pieces and reconfigure them…I [could] create any sort of composition that I wanted.”
It’s a technique that takes time, but that’s the point. As Fox noted, “Because coral reefs are built over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years, I see them as a material in nature that is keeping time.”
With the exception of her rock and mineral pieces, much of the labor involving her coral and arboreal art consists of installation work, meaning the displays must be created anew for each exhibition. Although other artists may recoil at the idea, Fox relishes the concept of creating different works of art via the same piece.
“I’m very interested in modular things that can be put together in all sorts of different ways to create different artworks,” she said.
The work is never truly done, but neither is nature. It’s always building, reworking, destroying and rebuilding anew.
“In a way, there is no end,” Fox said. “When you install this stuff, every time you install it, it’s different, so the piece is never really fixed. It’s never really finished. I like that open-endedness. It keeps it alive.”
Her next exhibition, Natural Allusions, will be viewable at Addison/Ripley Fine Art in Washington, D.C., beginning January 30 and continuing until March 13, 2015.
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