Tidy individual images on canvas were not enough for Carole Fisher. Big issues have been her subject matter.
Fisher’s education at MCAD, and a subsequent MFA at Pennsylvania State University, took place in an era when cool minimalist style was popular, and whatever the reigning mode she loves to draw. Yet she’s also from a labor union family, and grew up knowing about social activism. "I thought it was too late to just paint,” she explained to an interviewer about her early career; “I began to think of more temporal and situational work that was based in the public sphere.” Her post-1960s turnaround led to many projects, often complex installations reflecting on social ills: chemical testing, the Challenger space shuttle explosion, rape, the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Her dedicated work on this latter topic has been a major project for over twenty years. She’s made several trips to Prince William Sound, interviewing residents and experts. She distills this information, as well as actual samples of oil-soaked nature, into multi-part gallery experiences that range from large wall drawings to confrontational text enlargements to interactive pedestals. The installations reward deep attention, and have been exhibited regularly in several countries.
Fisher has been an activist about arts education as well; a founding member of the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota, a pioneering group of the 1970s, she’s taught many places, but most importantly for over 25 years at MCAD, from which she retired in 2010.