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Artist Spotlight: Vernon Fisher's Pursuit Of The Frivolous And The Tragic

By the early 1980s, Vernon Fisher was part of a loose group of artists who broke with abstract painting. He’d been painting abstract works himself in the ’70s but, discouraged, he began playing with books and texts, scraps he found around his studio. One day, he was printing out words with an old Dymo plastic label maker.

“And I just saw a piece of a sandpaper out of the corner of my eye,” Fisher says. “I mean, it was like the light bulb, you know what I mean? It was classic. It was Archimedes jumping out of the bathtub — because those letters sanded through so clean and so sweet. I immediately knew I was going to leave abstract painting and I was going to make paintings with the text sanded through. And as soon as that idea happened, I just shut up shop and I went home. The emotion was just too heavy to keep working. ”

Read about how the Fort Worth artist hooks his viewers with stories in museums from the Guggenheim to the Art Institute of Chicago on Art&Seek. Learn about other North Texas artists in the Artist Spotlight.

Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines.