As an artist for nearly 30 years, Debra Fisher shares stories – but she shares them in visual narratives, not necessarily written ones.
Among her many multimedia creations are trifold and quad-fold “books,” which can feature any number of colors, drawings, prints, and other artistic details inspired or culled from the pages of her life. Several of Fisher’s “books” and a massive installation work she calls The Waning October Moon are currently on display through Nov. 8 at Keuka College.
The title of the large work is also the title of the exhibit that is featured in the Lightner Gallery, housed in Lightner Library. An artist reception will be held Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 4:30- 6 p.m. Both the reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.
A few years ago, Fisher spent four months in the hospital, and it was not a pleasant experience.
“They poke and prod and pull you apart,” said the Spencerport resident who leveraged the experience and turned it into “The Predator Series,” a collection of prints of animals in attack mode. Each print features an inset of images from the classic cookbook “The Joy of Cooking,” which she considers humorous takes on Mother Nature and what people do for food sources.
“Man being preyed upon is the bottom line for that [work,] and myself – the object of investigation,” said Fisher, who has taught printmaking, multimedia and drawing for 13 years at SUNY Brockport. Other prints, drawings, and multimedia creations are also featured in the show.
It took two days for Fisher to complete the installation of her signature work in the gallery, and visitors will see a wash of antiqued yellow painted directly on the gallery walls, on which she has displayed three-dimensional objects, including 10 individual prints – of a boy, a boat, birds, and more. Each print was created when Fisher etched the selected work onto copper plates, then inked them. Prints were then mounted on wooden frames with hand-marbled paper around the edges, lacquered in a thin coat of beeswax.
Fisher calls herself a fan of the alternative print-making process. In addition to copper plating, she teaches gum prints, inking, and stamping. Stamps are part of the signature installation, and across the walls of the installation, visitors will see hand-stamped leaves and scarabs, the term for a dung beetle that some in the Egyptian culture believed offered good luck, or a sign of safe passage to the afterlife. Perhaps creating a feel as if entering a room, the installation also features a pair of women’s shoes from the 1940s rested atop a small ,three-dimensional staircase, mantel ledges mounted on the walls, and drapings of coffee-colored fabric swaths with prints of birds in flight.
“It’s déjà vu, the sense you’ve been somewhere before, lived this way, the ebb and flow of life situations and experiences you may have,” Fisher said, adding that even the imperfections of the gallery wall, with its nooks and crannies, fit the essence of her work.
Some of the images of the 10 prints contained within Fisher’s installation are replicas of idyllic landscape images from a print created between 1700 and 1800. Others have been culled from old books, perhaps those with engravings, or from nature. Another print, of a couple’s hands, was pulled from a famous work, “The Wedding,” by Jan Van Eyck, she said.
The Keuka exhibition is the second time Fisher has installed her signature work, and she enjoys discovering how it evolves each time it is recreated.
“The installation is ongoing … and I [already] have ideas for the next time. I have some really large bee etchings that will be mounted on thick cardboard and hovering above the wall. I will also include an elaborately framed etching of a dung beetle,” she said, noting she may add a print of her mother to the work. “One response I had from a fellow printmaker and artist was: ‘This could go on forever – you could work on this your whole life.’”
Visitors to the show will have the opportunity to purchase handmade sketchbooks Fisher has created. The covers are crafted with prints from the exhibition and the sketchbooks feature an exposed spine with coptic bindings (ie: chain-stitched by hand). These handmade creations are available for $25.
The gallery is open during library hours, which can be found at: http://lightner.keuka.edu.