Beth Fisher’s artwork aspires to an emotive story-telling in her illustration and painting, seeking to create scenes that make a poetic sense via the contortion of the figure, the qualities of light and color, the textures rendered on the page evoking sense-memory in the viewer. Her recent artwork combines embossment and painting to express this relationship between the physicality of her subjects and the desire to weave a fantasy; the sensory played against the illusory.
The choice of fantastical subjects such as fairies, goblins, and other creatures as subjects in Fisher’s oeuvre was both born from a desire to reconnect the artist (and the viewer) to a place of disarmed whimsy and delight, perhaps childhood, and a play on the queer perjorative term for gay men as “fairies.” The queer community has long represented a disquieting presence on the fringes of American society for its subversion of the boundaries between the sexes and gender expression. Calling men “fairies'' was itself a means of gender-policing, ascribing a proximity to femininity and womanhood for deviancy. But where does that connection between fairies to the feminine and the strange come from in the first place? Throughout Western European/North American literature fairies seem to have an innate connection to the natural world, trickery and deception, and the overthrow of normal propriety. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for example, the introduction of the fae characters signals an introduction of mayhem, matriarchy, and sexual deviancy. Perhaps the connection of modern queer folk to the Fair Folk lies in the anxiety that both create upheaval of the social norms. Fisher’s artwork seeks to explore that limbo between masculinity and femininity in a way not dissimilar to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There she will find the confusion, the ecstasy, the terror, and the wonder.
Beth Fisher was raised in the greenery and marshlands of Central Pennsylvania. A young protegé of sculptor and illustrator Elli Groninger, she left State College Pennsylvania to get her college degree in Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). At RISD Fisher discovered her love of print-making techniques including woodblock, screen-printing, and etching, and found in them the means to convey the crunchy, rich, textured worlds she imagined. Although she is now based in Pittsburgh, Fisher’s artwork is still inspired by the rich forests of Pennsylvania, the random scraps of nature poking through in the city, the pleasure of backyard vegetable gardens. She works in many different mediums including watercolor, pen and ink, ceramic sculpture, digital, and carving linoleum. Fisher is currently a freelance illustrator and cartoonist operating out of Pittsburgh, PA.
View Beth's artwork in the 2022 exhibit The World at Our Feet.