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Artist Creates a World of Labyrinths at Hollins Museum Exhibit

Ross’s intricate labyrinth project comes to life at the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University.
Ross’s intricate labyrinth project comes to life at the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University.

Eleanor D. Wilson Museum director Amy Moorefield is a big fan of site-specific work; that is, artwork created especially for the space it is being exhibited in. The work no longer exists after the show is over. Such is the case with an exhibit that runs through January 30 at the Hollins University venue.

“Fiona Ross: Walking the Parallels to Terminus,” features two sumi ink drawings by the artist of the same name, who spent two weeks on campus creating two large wall murals.  Using sumi ink and watercolor pens, Ross’s works are labyrinths – she starts at one point and draws in a continuous line, never crossing those paths along the way. “I’m flowing from one point to another … it’s an uninterrupted line,” said Ross.  “The lines never meet … there’s no inside or outside to the drawing.”

Patience and focus help guide the artist, who is never quite sure how her pieces will wind up. “I’m really anxious to see it when it’s done.”

Sumi ink is “just the deepest, darkest, light absorbing black I could find. It also has a sheen to it,” said Ross, adding that the plastic texture of the ink works well when she layers it.

Ross has been using the outline of her own body as the subject of some of her labyrinth pieces lately, as she continues to grow and experiment as an artist. She also occasionally takes time off from her canvas to recharge the batteries – in one instance she spent three months acting in a play at the University of Richmond. “When I got back to the drawing it was just ferocious.”

Spending time at Hollins University working on the wall murals was “fantastic. This much space to work in as an artist was very inspiring. It’s been so liberating.” In addition to the two wall murals, the Virginia Commonwealth masters of fine arts graduate has brought along enough other pieces to fill two of the Wilson’s three galleries.

Ross wants viewers to “try and discover a little bit about themselves,” when pondering her work. “The drawings don’t have heads and faces for a reason. I don’t want it to be only about me.”

“Her opening night lecture and reception last week drew more than 200 people,” said Moorefield, who first encountered Ross when she worked at the VCU museum in Richmond. “I’ve watched Fiona’s work for quite a while and was fascinated by her interests in labyrinths,” said Moorefield.

Site-specific work like the murals Ross created while at Hollins is something Moorefield is aiming for. “We really want to transform our space. We are not bound by hanging pictures.”

See hollins.edu/museum or call 362-6532 for more on Fiona Ross: Walking the Parallels to Terminus and other upcoming exhibits at the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.

By Gene Marrano
[email protected]

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