Alysia Fischer talks ancient glass and art from recycled materials

Complete captions for images may be found at the bottom of the page. We are grateful to Manifest Gallery for the use of their images. Please check out this excellent organization.

Archaeologist, Installation Artist, Sculptor, Craftsperson

Lecture 1:  Glassblowing in the Eastern Mediterranean: Insights from Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology, will be on Wednesday, September 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Whitman Room, Ramsey Library. The lecture is sponsored by the local chapter of the Archaeology Institute of America. It is free and open to the public.

Dr. Alysia Fischer is a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and has always followed her interests. This led her to study many subjects including Glassblowing, Religion, Near Eastern Studies, and Archaeology.  She earned a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Arizona as well as an MFA in Studio Art from Miami University and is a Senior Lecturer at the Center for American and World Cultures at Miami University of Ohio. As anthropologist, installation artist, sculptor, and craftsperson, Dr. Fischer is uniquely positioned to study glassblowing technology in the ancient Near East from an ethnoarchaeological perspective and has published numerous articles and monographs on the subject.  She has worked on the excavations at Sepphoris in the Galilee (Israel) for many years as well as in Jordan with local glassblowers investigating that country's refuse/recycling system as it pertains to glass work and craft.  

Lecture 2: What It Means to Be an Anthropological Artist will be on Thursday, September 22, 2016, Noon-1:00 p.m.,  Humanities Lecture Hall. The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History. It is is free and open to the public.

When Alysia is not in Jordan working with local glassblowers or trying to understand that country's refuse/recycling system, she can be found in Oxford, Ohio, or Weaverville, North Carolina. She divides her time teaching anthropology and creating artwork that slyly comments on the waste produced by our consumption-driven culture. Her mediums of choice have included discarded bicycle and tractor inner tubes, fabric, and other cast-offs from our cultural practices.

A brief artist statement:

As an anthropological artist, I am intensely curious about the cultural systems we find ourselves embedded in and the opportunities art offers to comment on them. We can tell what matters to a culture through observations of behavior.  Most recently, I have found myself fascinated with what we discard and what we save and what that says about us on the individual and the community level.  We learn about a culture not only from the specifics of what is discarded, but also from the attitudes toward and scale of waste.  Thus, part of what it means to live in the United Sates is to regularly discard "consumed" materials, typically on a weekly basis.  There is a well-oiled machine waiting to help us take part in contributing to the waste cycle. What does it mean to throw things away?  If there’s something left to discard, it hasn’t been truly consumed.  There may be life or use left in what’s put into opaque canisters on our curbs and in our alleys.  Does this action of concealment and removal create an absolution of guilt?  Do we believe the waste has somehow disappeared and no longer has an impact?  What would it be like if our trashcans and dumpsters were transparent and you had to show people what you were throwing away? This is so different from other parts of the world where I’ve lived and where the last tiny vestige of a use is pulled out of everything before it is finally released—truly fully spent.  It is only in places that have so much that waste on the scale of landfills can accumulate.  A landfill and the mound of some ancient cities look much alike, except one takes millennia to form and the other only decades.  How can we not notice that?  How is it possible to drive by these monuments to waste and not think about our personal involvement?Alysia Fischer.

Exhibitions and Awards:

Alysia has been multiple exhibitions: of note are Consumption, solo exhibition at Manifest GallerySuspended Resources of the MAKETANK Projects; Award of Distinction at National Biennial Juried Exhibition Fine Contemporary Craft at ArtSpace in Raleigh, North Carolina; Award for Projectile, Jim and Sue Aufderhaar Award for Excellence in Fine Craft, Ohio Musem of Craft; (read about more on her webage).

Alysia Fischer, Guest Lecturer



Image Captions

Chrysalis Chamber, hand-cut tractor inner tubes, and hand-forged steel hooks, 33x14x12 inches, 2011. (Photo Courtesy of Manifest Gallery)

Projectile, hand-sew intertube, glass base, upholstery stuffing, 7.5x21x7.5 inches, 2009. (Photo Courtesy of the artist)

Bloom, machine-sewn innertube and hand-forged steel hook, 33x14x14 inches, 2010. (Photo Courtesy of Manifest Gallery)

Imminent (aka Mine), hand-sewn inner tube, valve stems, upholstery stuffing, 7x10x7 inches, 2009. (Photo Courtesy the artist)

Camellia (aka Mound), machine/hand-sewn and hand-cut innertube, 8.5x8.5x1 inches, 2011. (Photo courtesy of Manifest Gallery)

Excavation site of ancient Sepphoris in the Galilee (Israel). (Photo courtesy of the artist)