I create labor-intensive drawings, collages and installations that explore ideas about organic growth, in particular the natural order that emerges from chaos. The work can be read at both micro and macro levels, from histology slides to topographic maps, from birds’ nests to coral reefs.
My materials are simple: paper, canvas, ink, jute, sisal, glue, graphite, and organic materials that I collect while walking. I am attracted to humble materials because of their accessible, democratic nature and connection to our everyday experiences. Linear materials such as yarn, long a staple in my relatives’ homes when I was growing up, allow me to extend my drawings into three dimensions through hand crocheting or hand knotting.
I build each work slowly—-mark by mark, piece by piece and stitch by stitch—-following a flexible set of rules. One recurring rule in my drawing practice, for instance, is to limit myself to one shape, the circle. As I draw, marks accumulate over a long period of time, often months, to form patterns and shapes. Similarly, in my sculptural work, knots and stitches accrete and gradually morph into nest-like structures. I begin each piece with just a general sense of how I want it to look, leaving ample space for improvisation and elements of chance. My process embraces mystery and uncertainty, and welcomes surprises.
With holes that serve as entry and exit points, the work is meant to contain and extend the human body and to create a symbiotic relationship between art and body. My surfaces are web-like and porous. They act as nets with the potential to protect or, more threateningly, to trap.
Place is also central to my work, influencing not only how the work is made but also how it is displayed. For example, in a recent installation in the alley next to the Chicago Theatre, I used colors such as deep purples, reds and yellows to contrast with the flat grey of the theatre’s brick exterior and repurposed the fire escapes as supports for my hanging sculptures. I am interested in reflecting or embodying specific places in my work. In a project I call “rain drawings,” I scatter ink-soaked leaves, grass and branches on paper to create a trace or record of a place or moment.
Born in Ohio, raised in Texas, and currently based in Chicago, Brent Fogt creates intricate drawings and installations that reference plants, maps and microscopic organisms. Brent’s work has been featured in New American Paintings, Art in America and hyperallergic.com and in solo exhibitions at Austin College, Emory University, Indiana University and the Lawndale Art Center. He has completed artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Djerassi Resident Artists Program and Yaddo. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.