Return to Articles


by Roberta Carasso

glue/newspaper, 12 x 12”, 2000.

glue/newspaper, 12 x 12”, 2000.

glue/newspaper, 12 x 12”, 2000.

glue/newspaper, 12 x 12”, 2000.
(DiRT, West Hollywood) Alison Foshee sees that the newspaper is the standard source of language information. As most of the world derives information largely from the printed word, the artist turns to throwaway journals as a viable creative medium. It's amazing what Foshee can do with foreign language newspapers and hot glue! The artist drops glue on shredded newspaper and quickly shapes the material, adds more glue and paper, building a simple shape into a complex structure of delicate textures, swirls of color, and sensual contours. What emerges are spiraled environments--mysterious configurations that resemble ancient or planetary terrains. The inventiveness of her method, the optical mounds of glue-encrusted paper speckled with assorted colored segments, gives Foshee's art a luscious and magical quality. The finished structure is secured and hung on a wall, resembling the genre of topographical maps, but very much a work of art. Foshee titles these constructions Gluescapes.

Foshee works with a one-language journal--Russian, Hebrew, Pakistani, Thai, Chinese, or whatever exotic newspaper she can find. In Gluescape Chinese, Foshee brilliantly maximizes the black and white tones of Chinese lettering, creating a textured monotoned world of light and shadows against a yellowing newspaper surface. In Gluescape Greek she emphasizes the whiteness of the paper, creating a floor of obsessively tiny white circular forms, on which she groups repetitive patterns of three bead-like paper pearls. The exotic work glistens like a jewel and hypnotically captures our attention. It is only when one realizes the presence of foreign letters gently peering from paper cracks that one returns to reality.

One of the metaphors suggested by the various language newspapers and the diminuitive glue towers is that of the Tower of Babel. The building of the Tower led to the general dispersement of the population and the emergence of different languages. For Foshee the story highlights her interest in communication and the spoken word, and how, when faced with language we do not understand, we become helpless and vulnerable. Conversely, when communication is freely exchanged we become empowered.

While shaping each strip in a particular language, Foshee is aware how remnants of color and words poke out from shapes, giving each construct a definitive character. Her ability to "paint " or "draw" straight, rounded or convoluted edges with a strip of ink-dyed color or print is extremely skillful. In Gluescape Hebrew closely-knit mounds reside next to one another, each having a different height, each playing off the other. The work has a childlike appeal, as if it resembles a toy or a play object one wants to touch or taste.

Foshee grew up in Southern California and received her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in Printmaking. She moved back to Los Angeles because of its strong art community. Her personal tendency to be obsessed with repetitious marks is what she found compatible with printmaking. This has now been translated into various three-dimensional constructions rendered as disposable objects. Having recently visited Thailand, Foshee has absorbed the spiral turrets she saw there into this work, as well as the colorful Thai newspapers, which are more vibrant than most American newspapers. Foshee began experimenting with newspaper manipulation; the hot glue followed and the Gluescapes were born.