Rosemarie Fiore performs at Museum of Contemporary Art and Space 42 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Fiore produces artwork out of the actions of mechanisms by converting popular technology. In the past, she has turned amusement park rides, cars, fireworks, floor polishers, lawn mowers, pinball machines, and waffle irons into painting machines. The practice is known as fumage.
Needless to say, no one can make art quite like Fiore can.
“The first project I did was in graduate school in Maine and I began using my car,” Fiore recalls. “I used my car to create paintings, to do a series of works that were generated out of the movements of the car.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Flash forward to 2021 and Penn State’s HUB-Robeson Galleries are currently presenting “Rosemarie Fiore,” an exhibition of works from the last 10 years of her career. The exhibition, which will run through January 2022, features Fiore’s large smoke paintings, collages, and tools. The tools will be used in an upcoming performance on the HUB lawn. Fiore will be at Penn State this fall for an outdoor smoke-painting performance. The performance, which is expected to clock in at three hours, will result in three large-scale murals that will be displayed in the HUB-Robeson Cultural Center for two years.
“Each tool she builds creates its own brush strokes or marks with colored smoke,” explains Lindsey Landfried, curator and gallery manager of the HUB Robeson Galleries. “Two of the designs on view were inspired by her family’s heritage and by the history of the ‘Green Men’ who were appointed to head public processions, parades and festivals with a ‘Fire Club’ shooting sparks.”
Fiore, who resides in New York City, is excited for her appearance at Penn State, even though details of the event were still a work in progress.
“The setup is allowing me to work one on mural at a time. There are a lot of tool changes … technical things to make sure that the murals are being made properly,” Fiore says. “I’ve done performances where there is no mural product and it’s not as long. This is going to be a longer process. We’re still trying to figure it all out.”
“The first project I did was in graduate school in Maine and I began using my car,” Rosemarie Fiore recalls. “I used my car to create paintings, to do a series of works that were generated out of the movements of the car.”
Fiore was selected through a competitive international call for artists. A committee of 16 jurors from Penn State and local communities selected the artist from a pool of over 150 applicants.
The date of the performance has not been announced.
“An event for the public lawn on this open campus provides direct encounters with art for a general audience and made with a team of collaborators, encourages ownership and collective action,” Landfried says. “This work celebrates the civic vitality of the campus and State College.”
Fiore is no stranger to University Park. She worked with students from Penn State’s School of Visual Arts in 2020 to design and build smoke-drawing and painting tools. Penn State’s HUB-Robeson Galleries recently received a $25,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support a performance celebrating inclusivity in central Pennsylvania.
Now, a solo exhibition of several years and bodies of Fiore’s work will be on display at the HUB Gallery for all to see.
Fiore says she is excited to give students, faculty, staff and the general public a chance to see how her art is created.
“There’s a lot of things that shift and change, but it’s going to be a good part of the day. It will give people a chance to see it in between their classes or whatever they’re doing. There’s going to be a bigger time period, a bigger window, to stop by,” Fiore says.
Because Fiore uses such creative tools to create the works of art, each piece is unique. The tools that Fiore employs engage the entire body – or in some cases, many people’s bodies – to move from a fixed point. Fiore is forced to respond to the physics of the tools she is using. Once tubes and cartons are ignited, Fiore’s time with each piece is limited.
“Rosemarie’s drawing processes are her own mark-making language,” Landfried says.
The HUB-Robeson Galleries project is among more than 1,100 projects across America totaling nearly $27 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding.
Support for the project comes from Penn State’s Strategic Seed Grant Initiative, Student Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Fiore has an impressive résumé, to say the least. She has attended residencies at Kohler Arts/ Industry Program, Yaddo, Saratoga, N.Y.; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine; and MacDowell, Peterborough, N.H. Her work has been exhibited at The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, N.C.; The SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Ga; The Bronx Museum, Bronx, N.Y.; The Queens Museum of Art, Flushing, N.Y.; Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, N.Y.; and The Franklin Institute of Science in Philadelphia, Pa.
As she reflected on her long and illustrious career, Fiore says that one of her favorite pieces of art came from using a Scrambler. Yes, the popular amusement park ride.
“I used it to create a 64-foot painting. That was amazing. That was a lot of fun,” Fiore says. “I was collaborating with a non-profit gallery space and we obtained a full-size Scrambler ride and we transformed it into a painting machine by taking one of the cars and fitting it with a compressor and an energy source, and we were able to use it spray-paint down and capture the image it made when it spun.”
Chances are that there won’t be any amusement park rides on the HUB lawn, but Fiore is always good for a surprise or two, so one never knows.
For more information about Fiore, visit her website at www.rosemariefiore.com.
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