Meet Holly Fischer: artist, professor at Meredith College, yoga instructor, and all around embodiment of awesomeness. We have followed Holly’s work for awhile now, so we were excited that her beautiful, sensuous sculptural works were introduced to the Charlotte community through Gendered: An Inclusive Art Exhibition, a juried exhibition organized by the Young Affiliates of the Mint, currently on view in The Mint’s (underused) fifth floor space.
HappeningsCLT: Describe yourself in three words?
Holly Fischer: Passionate, Perfectionist, Persistent
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
HF: So much inspires me, but I’m particularly drawn to sensual organic forms and provocative concepts that arise from my long-standing interest in women and gender studies. The paradoxes of femininity are a major source of my artistic inspiration. As a woman, I perpetually walk a line between objectification and empowerment. Beauty and sexuality can be powerful attributes; however, cultivating these traits at the expense of all others, as our society frequently encourages, is problematic and limiting. Incongruously, when beauty and sexuality are expressed in excess or used for empowerment, they are typically reviled as superficial and manipulative. These contradictory tenants of femininity make femme fatales sympathetic villains and the subjects of much of my work.
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
HF: I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a home where creativity was strongly encouraged and regularly fostered. My mom is a successful fiber artist and a founding member of a thriving craft cooperative; I spent countless hours as a child in Hands Gallery (Boone, NC) and Main Street Gallery (Blowing Rock, NC) enamored by the artwork on display. I always loved making things, and I’d apply my creativity using whatever materials were on hand. My mom likes to tell a story about my coming home from an afterschool program where instead of playing kickball with the other kids, I wandered off and collected sticky burrs and assembled a sculpture of a cat from my findings. So, family lore tends to mark this event as early evidence that I was an artist in the making.
HCLT: Where can we see your work?
HF: Currently, I have five sculptures included in Gendered: An Inclusive Art Exhibition at the Mint Museum Uptown, running through July 28. I will have work on display in Ten, an anniversary exhibition highlighting the first ten years at The Galleries of the Cabarrus Arts Council, from August 3 – October 20. In September, I will have work in Refresh: New Art, New Views at Fine Art at Baxters Gallery in New Bern, NC. Also opening in September, the Meredith College Art Department Faculty and Staff Exhibition will feature my work along with the work of my colleagues.
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work?
HF: Recently I have been working with forms inspired by the dangerous and alluring beauty of carnivorous plants and poisonous underwater creatures. These seductive and deadly forms readily become metaphors for our culture’s inherent mistrust of female empowerment and common fears regarding gender fluidity. My work explores the tension of binary restrictions that create an artificial separation between feminine and masculine qualities. Sensual, undulating forms depict an ambiguous mix of anatomical features, alluding to the dynamic and perpetual act of becoming one’s gender. I seek to embrace dualities through the morphing of seemingly incongruous attributes to form new identities that are at once familiar and strange, mysterious and beguiling. I hope that upon seeing this work, observers will have mixed feelings of apprehension and intrigue. The shiny pops of color and meticulous textural elements beckon a closure look, while spiny projections and visceral crevices and folds may make one second guess the initial desire to touch. I hope this subtle tension between viewer and object will encourage observers to question the nature of their fears and desires and contemplate assumptions regarding beauty, gender, and sexuality.
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas?
HF: There are so many to choose from! As a resident of Raleigh, I take great pride in the North Carolina Museum of Art; its ever-expanding collection, educational programs, and revolving exhibition schedule are incredibly impressive. I’m also proud of North Carolina’s rich craft tradition exemplified by the Penland School of Crafts and the ceramic artists in Seagrove. Throughout the state, there is an extensive array of outstanding galleries, museums, schools, and community centers working to support the arts and make the creative process more widely accessible. I’m honored to be an artist working, teaching, and exhibiting in North Carolina.
HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?
HF: Audio books have become a staple of my studio practice. I voraciously consume more books than I can count as I work on my creative projects. I’m often asked how I can possibly multi-task in this way, but to my mind the two activities are highly compatible. The book I’m listening to occupies the part of my brain that is prone to over-thinking; this leaves me more open to intuitively respond to the materials I’m working with as I search for harmonious visual relationships. I enjoy a wide variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction; there is nothing better than getting lost in a good narrative rife with quirky characters. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt is up next in my listening queue.
HCLT: Best meal in the Carolinas?
HF: Bida Manda, a Laotian restaurant and bar in downtown Raleigh, is currently my favorite place to eat. The food, atmosphere and service are outstanding.
HCLT: What is up next?
HF: I’m always trying to push myself to explore new approaches and materials. The majority of my work is ceramic, but I’ve recently been exploring fibers to see if I can translate my visual vocabulary in another medium. Over the past year, I created a series of cast paper forms that I used as membranes for intricate embroidery. I exhibited this work alongside my ceramic work earlier this year in a solo show at Artspace in downtown Raleigh. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of series, and now I want to find a way to bridge the two materials. I’m currently in the research and development phase, experimenting with how to successfully link ceramic forms with delicate crochet webbing.