Erica Fitzgerald is a contemporary sculpture artist who explores the clash between natural and industrial worlds. Her compositions are rooted in ecofeminism with a strong emphasis on environmental awareness that exposes the damage that male-dominated societies have on women and nature. Fitzgerald believes in ethical sourcing of organic and recycled materials.
How has your upbringing influenced you as an artist today?
I grew up in a predominately white, affluent suburban neighborhood. It was safe, everyone basically agreed, and my only worries were how other people perceived me. I am grateful for the upbringing I had but I feel like it left a lot to be desired when it comes to diversity, empowerment, and changing the status quo. It was a bubble, but of course I didn’t realize this until later in life. My work seems as though it is conversely related to this time in my life. I want to expose the norm and tear it to the ground. We need to understand what we are doing to the environment and how we treat each other. My work represents everything that was never spoken then. That’s how my upbringing influenced me. It made me realize there is so much more to the world. There are important conversations to be had and change that begs for a chance to be heard. It taught me to break the mold and give in to free thinking.
What stories or messages do you wish to tell through your creations?
I explore the clash between natural and industrial worlds to inspire my work, as well as themes of eco-feminism to deconstruct a patriarchal society. I hope to inspire reactions that get people thinking about how women and animals have suffered in male-dominated societies because they are merely seen as lessor or weak. I think it’s important to look at how the female gender is viewed as a reproductive, sex symbol versus a strong, intelligent being. I create work that viewers often consider, “off” or “grotesque” but I think it’s important for viewers to sometimes feel uncomfortable when consuming a piece. Discomfort gives way to free thinking about a topic, hopefully in a constructive, provocative manner.
What challenges have you found pursuing a creative career? What advice would you give to emerging artists?
The biggest hurdle for me was getting over other people’s perception what being an “artist” is, and pursuing a non-traditional career. I started pursuing an art career in my thirties after having worked in corporate America for twelve years. I was unhappy and felt my creativity was being suppressed. It was time for me to do something that actually made me happy while also making a difference for other people. While I still struggle with people thinking that being an artist isn’t a “real” career, it helps me to know that my passion for art has the potential to relay a message to others. We all create for a reason, whether that’s to make pretty things or to piss people off. That’s the beauty of art. I look at art as a vehicle for change. Art is powerful because it is relative. No one gets to tell you how you feel about it or what you see.
To my emerging artist friends: Don’t let anyone tell you can can’t…you can! It’s not easy and sometimes you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, but keep pushing even when you think there’s nothing else left. Something will come of your hard work. Keep making art and trying new things. Always!
Social media is a powerful tool for promoting and spreading one’s work, how have you utilized social media to share your work?
I think Instagram is one of the greatest tools for promoting work right now. They offer some great incite tools and their support is just great! A website has also helped me. I had zero experience building a website but companies like Wix are great for beginners. It’s time consuming but it’s totally worth it.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
I am currently working on what I call my ‘Bag Lady’ project. Quarantine has been a really big challenge because studio spaces are limited and getting materials is tough. I started using household, recycled items in my work and realized I had a trillion plastic grocery bags that were cluttering up my cabinets so I stated fusing them together to create a new material. I have since started using that material in most of my work to bring light to conservation and recycling old items to serve a bigger purpose.
FRONTRUNNER online forum: @ericafitzgerald