In an age where the only items that we share are on Pinterest, Nancy Fouts’ exhibition Artifact proves to be a dedicated endeavour to the art of collection.
Upon entering her show at the Pertwee Anderson & Gold gallery, one is confronted with large canvases decorated with hundreds upon hundreds of trinkets. Bottle openers, miniature pistols, crucifixes, buttons, medals, coins, heart-shaped charms—you name it and Fouts manages to weave these items into multi-layered collages that immediately draw the eye in. “I like to mess up the Catholic artifacts by having a Mercedes Benz logo or a casino chip mixed in there. I think it’s good because you’re surprised when you see it and you want to look around and see what other mistakes I made,” says Fouts.
However, one would have to look hard to find ‘mistakes’ in her work. Aside from the fact that judging artwork is such an extremely subjective act, the artist’s collages, sculptures and prints manage to juxtapose elements to a degree that is thought-provoking rather than faulty, be it the case of syringes filled with ladybugs or a lovebird pulling the pin on a hand grenade. It’s hard not to look at a construction like Jesus Winged, a figure of Christ with magpie wings, and fall into analytical judgement about what Fouts is trying to say through her mélange of the everyday and the divine. Is it a comment on a throwaway consumer culture that neglects the beauty of such seemingly trivial things, or perhaps her own personal opinion on religion?
“It takes a lot of confidence to say ‘Why, why not? Okay I will.”
Although coyly admitting that there are of course deeper underlying meanings to her work, Fouts ultimately says: “I think it’s better not to think, just go by associations.” It is this spontaneity which she specifically enjoys in her most recent body of work. “I usually was so in control but recently I’ve learned that all of a sudden I’d make an arrangement and I’d want to leave it that way because it looked better and so I did. It takes a lot of confidence to say ‘Why, why not, okay I will’ and I like that I’m getting there, that comes from people liking it,” she explains.
On the topic of likes, Fouts notes that one of her favourite pieces from the show is She Often Gave Herself Very Good Advice But Seldom Followed It, a taxidermy chick squeezed into a glass dome. “I enjoy that piece because it just happened. I had a dome and a chick and was wondering how it could fit. It didn’t and I thought that was brilliant, it was purely accidental,” she says. Accidental or not, and regardless of whether it is viewed in a more impulsive or analytical context, the work of Nancy Flouts makes for an intriguing and visually-stimulating experience.
Artifact: A Solo Exhibition By Nancy Fouts is on at Pertwee Anderson and Gold.
By Carla Seipp