Fann-ing the creative fires


by Kristy Raymond

At an artist colony in Vermont, assistant art professor Justin Nostrala found something that he felt was remarkably different from anything he’d ever seen. That something was the work of Chicago artist Madeline Fann.

Fann’s unique and unconventional art will be attached to and suspended from the walls of Farnham Gallery in Mary Berry Hall this month.

Fann herself will also be in the gallery for a few days. She will be turning the gallery into her studio, working on new pieces.

Fann said she knew at a very early age that she was to be an artist. Her mother was an artist, her grandfather was an art collector, and they encouraged and supported her. She has been painting since 1989 and has been working on tape drawings for the past five years.

Her tape drawings happened by chance, and were not something that she had ever planned on doing.

“I moved three times in one year, and I had a lot of packing tape around. I put some tape on a coffee cup one day in my studio and I thought it was neat, and that was that,” Fann said.

Some of Fann’s tape drawings are displayed on vinyl pieces that are suspended from the ceiling of the gallery. Light reflects and shines through the vinyl and packing tape giving it a bit of texture. The shapes and colors used in these drawings, as with much of Fann’s other art, are influenced by her Chinese heritage.

There are also tape drawings on pieces of Plexiglas that combine a variety of different elements and materials. Fann uses the packing tape, colored glue, vinyl pieces, colored pieces of plastic, and nylon chord to form different scenes, shapes, colors, and textures on the Plexiglas. The colored plastic pieces are cut into twenty three chromosome pieces which Fann feels represents the DNA of human life.

Freshman art major, Jamie Alexander, had only good things to say about Fann’s tape drawings.

“I couldn’t believe that was tape,” said Alexander. “You couldn’t even tell. It is so cool how she layers it and then cuts it into the neatest designs. I really liked the colored plastic that was cut into chromosome shapes.”

On the other side of the gallery, watercolor paintings encased in baggies hang from the walls.

“I like to put the water colors in baggies, because it gives water colors a sort of tough aspect since baggies are waterproof, and I am putting water colors in them. It’s just sort of funny, I think,” Fann said.

In addition to the watercolors, dollar bills and candy are also enclosed in baggies. The baggies are sewn together into a quilt like form.

Fann, who said she is a notorious packrat started collecting dollar bills that had writing on them.

“Some of the bills have some very personal writing on them and give us a glimpse into people’s life. That was really interesting to me, so I sewed it into a quilt,” Fann said.

Fann was not the only one who found the idea to be unique.

“I thought there were a lot of differences between her watercolors and her tape drawings,” said freshman Rachel Doty. “All of it was very interesting and unlike anything I’d seen before. I am really glad that I went to see something that you don’t see everyday.”

Fann’s display will be in Farnham Gallery until Feb. 28.