making authority

nick fagan

In her essay “On Style,” Susan Sontag wrote: “a work of art encountered as a work of art is an experience, not a statement or an answer to a question.” In this statement, Sontag espouses a conception of the art-encounter as one that is essentially the act of keeping a question alive, one that fosters dialogue rather than didacticism. This ritual of perpetual questioning has indelibly shaped my own methodology and work. The work centers upon the delicate and explosive nexus between the private, the public, and the personal. I strive to render visible the aleatory and fractious nature of interpersonal conversation, story-telling, and mental rumination in both two and three-dimensional mediums. The difficulty of representing that which is awkward or unutterable also drives my work, and I am committed to confronting head-on those subjects which many deem taboo, such as mental health and illness, disability, and the razor-thin, often ambiguous line between life’s comedic and tragic moments. 

I base the visuals aspects of my work on drawing, line work and cartoons. I am compelled by the philosophical and connective power of line, its capacity for duality, as a tether or a boundary, an incision or a scar. Line’s probing rawness approximates the elaborate roving and intertwining of organic discourse. Pushing it away from paper and pencil and thinking about drawing as something of a half way point between 3D and 2D where I allow myself to jump in between these areas. In my paintings, line is made by carving out material at different levels, giving the impression of line through shadow and shape. The sculptures show line as an object not bound by any surface, similar to how we see lines on paper. The images I use are a result of repetitive, almost manic, drawing of characters.

This show was in collaboration with Artist Residency Chattanooga.