Thesis: Jay Fox

The academic engine that fuels so much artistic print production and inquiry hits a fever pitch at this time of year with students at all levels of higher education producing culminate work toward their various degrees. The future of print belongs to these young minds so why not survey what they’re making. Printeresting will be sharing a sampling of thesis work from all over the US and beyond in a series called All These Theses 2014.

The following images are from Jay Fox’s MFA exhibition at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he’s getting his degree in Print and Narrative Forms. Here is a brief statement…

The installation From the Ground Up is a convergence of image and place, separating itself from the expected aesthetic of the gallery by employing the vernacular of the laborer: common construction materials and carpentry tools. A break from a sterile gallery into the freshly built space, it’s replete with smells and evidence of the worker’s hand and transports the viewer to another time and place.  The space, lined with a bank of drawers, presents a face of yellow pine. A dark walnut veneer supposes the indication of use. Viewers succumb to curiosity, they are encouraged to interact, open and discover the interiors of the drawers. Inside the drawers are prints on handmade paper of lifeless materials and dormant hand tools, prints that portray these objects at full scale and serve to memorialize.  Each drawer is titled, including a price (the price of the objects, a box of nails is 12.98, a handsaw is 39.97, 21 drawers in all). Across the newly built workshop space is a table made from sawhorses with an honesty box to facilitate transactions. There are even some handmade paper IOU’s for the paperless community.

 Through this exhibit and interactions From the Ground Up embodies the democratic principals of printmaking , the humble nature of labor, the waning of reverence for traditional processes, and the passing of pride for manual practices.










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3 Responses to “Thesis: Jay Fox”

  1. Susie says:

    We got to experience Jay’s show in person, and it was beautiful. If you skipped reading the excerpt from his statement (above), check it out – it really gives a solid sense of what it was like as an experience. We purchased the nail (pictured), one of two styles of hammer, wood clamps and a long board. It was such a fun experience to become part of the installation (“what’s in that drawer? Ooh, what’s in that one?”), and to watch other people interact with it and with each other. It promoted a lot of curiosity and exploration. Super cool.

  2. Jay’s integration of printmaking, installation and interaction was truly brilliant in this show, I loved it! His drill-down to details was fascinating and complicated. From within the drawers that he handcrafted emerged delicately printed images of timeless tools on delicate yet hearty handmade paper, referencing the timelessness of the craft of papermaking and relationship of process and material. The bustle of viewers cum participants rifling through the drawers created a crescendo of sound like one might have heard in an old timey one-stop shop. The most brilliant touch, on top of it all, was the thick cotton string and scissors provided for us to roll up our images for takeaway. The action of the cutting and wrapping was an active metaphor transcending the digital age of consumerism, taking us into a realm of precious sacred commodity lost today in monstrosities like Home Depot. I will treasure the two prints I have of Jay’s from this exhibit. Keep your eyes on this guy. Further brilliance to come!

  3. Lisa says:

    So funny to come across this because I believe I saw one of Jay’s installations last year while attending the SGC Conference in Milwaukee. I took three prints from that installation, and treasure them! Great to see more great work.