Brent Fogt Silent Topographies

March 13, 2009 – April 18, 2009

Artist Statement

“My current work is composed of large drawings and sculptural installations. I build my drawings by amassing small units to create abstract forms that vary from the topographic to the decorative. The ubiquity of circles appeals to me, as does the potential to read them as simultaneously microscopic and cosmic. Circles are also infinitely flexible, making it easy to lay one next to another in multiple directions. The patterns in my drawings refer to, among other things, aerial photography, maps, turbulent water, live oak trees, coral reefs, ant farms, and paisleys. Though the drawings resemble fractals, the shapes vary greatly depending on the viewer’s distance from the work.

I begin with little or no idea what a drawing will eventually look like, but by limiting my range of choices to a specific kind and size of mark, I have enough information to proceed. These self-imposed limits produce a high degree of repetition, but they also leave room for improvisation.

As I continue to draw, I attempt to balance chaos and order, positive and negative space, movement and stasis. I send out paths of ink into blank space and build around them. Forms begin to emerge after two or three days of drawing. At this point, I lightly sketch outlines for the rest of the forms, which become containers for further improvisation.The result is a series of fantastic places—islands or continents unoccupied by human or animal. I want viewers to imagine traversing these places, exploring their topography and pattern. I am also interested in how the viewers’ experience changes as they approach or move away from the work.

My installations also rely heavily on repetition. I respond to the “personality” of a site by manipulating and arranging simple materials in the space. For example, one recent basement installation involved coiling miles of candle wicking. In another installation that referencedRoman aqueducts, I suspended a block of ice from the ceiling, captured the melting water with vinyl tubing and directed the flow of water into a mold of identical size to the ice block, a task that I repeated daily. Repeated actions are as much a part of my installations as they are my drawings.

In all my creative output, I am fascinated with process. To capture how a piece changes overtime, I document much of my work with photographs and video. I also record myself working.The result has been a series of animations and videos that explore material transformation and the idea of artist as worker. In addition, I am constantly testing new ways of working. One recent work involved drawing on an eight-foot long scroll of paper. I limited myself to working on one small section at a time to prevent myself from seeing the entire composition. I am intrigued with how constraints such as these can produce unexpected results.”

Artist Bios

Brent Fogt is an Assistant Professor of Art at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.Born in Ohio and raised in Texas, Brent creates intricate drawings and installations that reference maps, aerial photographs and microscopic organisms. He has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally. Most recently, Brent’s work was featured in the2007 Midwest edition of New American Paintings, an “exhibition in print” curated byElizabeth Dunbar, Curator of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City.He holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and a BFA from the University ofTexas.