“Firework Drawing #13,” 2009,
lit firework residue on paper
Courtesy of the artist and SCAD Museum of Art
Over the past decade, New York artist Rosemarie Fiore has used lawn mowers, waffle irons, pinball machines, floor polishers and even amusement park rides to create critically acclaimed paintings.
“I’ve chosen to collaborate with machines to create my work,” she says. “I use machines as mark-making tools. For me, paint just isn’t enough.”
In her latest work, Fiore harnesses the pyrotechnic power of fireworks to create series of experimental collages on paper. Her “Firework Drawing” series — on display at the SCAD Museum of Art through May 12 — illustrates her experiments with fireworks, smoke bombs and smoke canisters to create large-format abstract works.
Fiore uses fumage, an innovative technique pioneered by Austrian Surrealist Wolfgang Paalen in the 1930s, to “paint” with smoke. The results are nothing short of explosive. By igniting commercial fireworks and harnessing the dense smoke in canisters, she blends colors, enhances textures and captures the singed residue on paper. Her preferred fireworks include color smoke bombs, jumping jacks, monster balls, rings of fire and lasers.
“My work is a battle between control and chaos,” she admits. “I can’t completely control the process because the smoke is unpredictable.”
Fiore first discovered this unconventional process in 2001 during an artistic residency in Roswell, N.M.
“I dropped a device on the floor on the Fourth of July by accident,” she says. “It rolled and created a dotted blue line.”
She quickly realized the mark-making potential of fireworks and began experimenting with incendiary devices. Inspired by Yves Klein’s fire paintings created with blowtorches and John Cage’s use of chance to compose music, Fiore developed a technique using coffee cans, buckets and other containers to harness the pigment-rich smoke.
“When I start lighting things off, I get lost in the process,” she says. “It’s like time slows down, and I’m able to manipulate and control the process.”
“Firework Drawings” offers a selection of five large-scale collages comprised of vibrant geometric forms marked by burns, scars and singe marks. Some of the collages suggest cosmic themes, while others allude to molecular activity.
In “Firework Drawing #13,” she layers richly colored circles to suggest the movement of planets through space. Hues ranging from pale melon and light sage to deep crimson and midnight blue evoke mutable interstellar orbs.
By contrast, “Firework Drawing #65” embodies the explosive violence of fireworks in an image strategically sliced and reassembled, angular shards of colors defining the central axis.
Fiore drags canisters across paper to create elongated forms recalling shooting stars. These works create the illusion of depth in two dimensions through combinations of color and form.
Defined by a sophisticated manipulation of line, color and texture, her work captures the raw energy and childlike excitement of a nighttime fireworks display. The ethereal nature of the material appeals to Fiore, who continues to experiment with a wide range of unconventional materials at her studio in the Bronx.
“I’ve spent many years working with smoke,” she says. “I love the ephemeral nature of the medium. That’s what draws me to it. It’s there one second, and then it’s gone. I love capturing its presence.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in New York in 1972, Rosemarie Fiore earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been featured in dozens of solo and group exhibitions and has earned critical acclaim.
IF YOU GO
What: “Rosemarie Fiore: Firework Drawings”
Where: SCAD Museum of Art, 601 Turner Blvd.
When: Through May 12; reception at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19 as part of the 2013 deFINE ART Gallery Hop
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Cost: $10 general admission, $8 senior/military; $20 family admission (3 or more); $5 SCAD alumni; free for SCAD students, faculty and staff and children younger than 14
Info: 912-525-7191, www.scadmoa.org
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