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Swan School: The Matriculation


Ali Fitzgerald‘s most recent show at Art Palace , Swan School: The
, feels like a giant step forward in her evolution as an
artist. Thematically, she has left the cowgirls and airplanes behind
and moved on to boarding schools and "Sad Little White Girl." Gone are
the gigantic unstretched
canvas installations and the tiny graphic novel books. Gone are the
dark, shadowy German Expressionist color schemes, supplanted by
something the press release calls "Gothic" but might be better
described as a mixture of Byzantine and Rococo influences.

a huge fan of her gold paper cutouts on rich purple velour, framed in
hand-curlicued frames painted in gold. Fitzgerald’s draftsmanship
really comes out in these cutouts, showing a real mastery of
perspective, space and depth. Granted, the X-acto
knifing is not perfect and the frames look like something you could
spot at the Pecan Street Festival, but if you still equate artistic
merit with production quality then you’ve got bigger problems than this
blog can deal with. Part of the allure for me is the shitty corners in
the paper cutouts, or how the frames look like they were made by
somebody with lots of chewing gum and even more time to spare. Someone
like a sad little white girl, anangsty teenager stuck in boarding
school perhaps (see how it all ties in together?). These works are
where the Byzantine influence is most obvious, not only in the palette
but also in the geometric construction of some of the scenes pictured.
Here are some Byzantine images for comparison:
Icon of the Savior, c. 6th Century?

Icon with the Koimesis ("Falling Asleep") of the Virgin Mary, late 10th century

The large sculptural installation in the newly renovated side room at
Art Palace feels like a culmination of the changes in style Fitzgerald
announced with her work at AMOA‘s
New Art In Austin. It’s pure delicious Rococo; all pastel colors and
exaggerated ornamentation. Fitzgerald does a fantastic job of
painstakingly constructing a manifestation of the "dystopian boarding
school complex" where the narrative backbone of her show takes place.
...Fitzgerald's installation
The Rococo Basilica at Ottobeuren (Bavaria)
Sadly, Fitzgerald will leave Austin soon, making this maybe her last
show in town for a long time. So if you want to hear the story from
Fitzgerald herself, this coming Wednesday, May 7 at 7:00pm, Art Palace
is hosting a gallery talk for Swan School:The Matriculation.

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