Rosemarie Fiore: Fireworks

Bronx-based artist Rosemarie Fiore has always employed unconventional, process-oriented methods and tools of production to explore the tension between unpredictable and premedi- tated elements in her artwork—from a spinning amusement-park ride called The Scrambler that she equipped with buckets of paint, to a pinball machine, a modified lawn mower, and the windshield wipers and tires on her car. “I control my mark-making as much as I can,” she notes. “I keep in mind that it is a balance between chaos and control and that too much control suffocates the work.” Fiore’s interest in chance and performative aspects of art-making aligns her efforts with those of various modern and postmodern predecessors, including John Cage and 1960s performance artists like Vito Acconci and Chris Burden.
To render her densely layered and opulently colored Firework Drawings, Fiore uses the tinted smoke—made of fine particles of organic dyes—generated by live fireworks. Working in her backyard, she explodes these combustibles over large sheets of heavyweight paper. Fiore performs her own brand of action painting as she quickly moves around the work-in-progress, manipulating her volatile medium in different ways. She may cover the ignited firework with
a container, for instance, that she then pulls or pushes across the paper support to make vibrant streaks and circles of color.
Fiore wrests an impressive repertoire of other gestural and chromatic effects from her arsenal of Spinning Carnations, Monster Balls, Magic Whips, Rings of Fire, Smoke Fountains, Dinosaur Eggs, and Sparklers. In her more recent drawings, she slices, folds, and tears the paper support, also collaging cutouts from other firework-tinted sheets that add an element of low relief when clustered together. This multiphase process yields exhilarating large-scale compositions in which color and drawing, surface and space dynamically coalesce.
Fiore has more explicitly extended this approach into three dimensions with glass sculptures that she calls Smoke Domes. She “blows” the glass by inserting Smoke Bombs into the molten material, which then expands with each mini-explosion. Assisted by graduate students Alex Hayden, Charlotte Lemaire, and Jake Vincent, as well as several undergraduates from VCU’s glass program, Fiore produced a new group of experimental Smoke Domes during a visit
to the Craft/Material Studies Department this spring. Selected pieces from this collaboration are also on view.

Ashley Kistler Gallery Director, 2012
Anderson Gallery/VCUarts, Richmond, VA