Carol Prusa: Unfathomable

Exhibition in silverpoint and mixed media

When: August 21- September 17, 2015
Where: S. Tucker Cooke Gallery, Owen Hall
Opening Reception: Friday, August 21, 6-8:00 p.m.
Gallery Hours: 9 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Artist Lecture: Friday, August 21, Humanities Lecture Hall, 5:00 p.m.
Both events are free and open to the public.

Carol Prusa was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and went on to receive her master of fine arts degree in painting (minor in drawing) from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. She has taught at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, since 1999 (currently as full professor since 2009).

Prusa's recent work consists of fiberglass forms, acrylic circles, acrylic hemispheres and spheres ranging from bowl-sized to five feet in diameter, articulated with silverpoint drawing and ground graphite washes heightened with white, often punctuated by patterns of light (from fiber optics, internal programmed lights, video, or reflections on aluminum leaf). 

[The Universe] is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures." -- Galileo Galilei, Il Saggiatore, 1623

Artist Statement: Raised by my head-elder-of-the-church iconoclastic Calvinist father, I retreated as a child to creating worlds on my dresser top.  The domain of my dresser offered an island of freedom in a world of outer rules and became my first art.  Later, attending the University of Illinois as a chemistry major, it was in the lab with the unknowns—substances that had to be determined by series of tests and titrations, that I embraced my interest in the unknown and sought the freest way of pursuing it, converting to an art major.

I create worlds sustained by logic internal to the work: a download-of-sort of what I feel like to be alive, at least in this moment, while consuming contested cosmologies.  Merging pre-industrial craft methods with contemporary strategies, curved surfaces are articulated to create liminal skins between known and unknown. These thresholds express my sense of euphoria when glimpsing the interconnectedness that surrounds and binds. I look to mathematicians and scientists for grand theories and poets for language to express the strangeness and vital beauty of what is possible. Like the actor Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters, I resolve to make the most rigorously articulated pile of mashed potatoes I can sublimate from the unfathomable.

My constructed worlds are provocative symbols that invoke the idea of the universe and physical objects that allude to real-life structures. In my “canopies,” I explore a number of models developed to explain our universe. The mathematics of my expressed geometries offer a spiritual force that organizes structures from the microscopic to the political. Here, geometry isn't simply abstract but creates a real world, sustained by its own logic.—Carol Prusa, July 2015. 

Prusas' exhibitions, permanent collections, awards, publications

Prusa, born and raised on the south side of Chicago, earned her BS degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and went on to receive an MFA in painting from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Known for her contemporary and large-scale use of silverpoint combined with fiber optics, she has been awarded visual arts fellowships from the South Florida Cultural Consortium, the State of Florida, and the Howard Foundation through Brown University (a significant national research award conferred every five years to a small group of artists).

Her work is in the permanent collections of the Perez Art Museum (Miami), Museum of Art (Fort Lauderdale), Hunter Museum of American Art (Chattanooga), Spencer Museum of Art (University of Kansas, Lawrence), Arkansas Arts Center (Little Rock), Daum Museum of Contemporary Art (Sedalia, Missouri),  and Telfair Art Museum (Savannah), among others.

Prusa’s work traveled in the Triennial Exhibition of German and American Artists curated by the American Museum of Arts and Design (New York City), exhibited at the Museum for Angewandte Kunst (Frankfurt) and at the Museum of Arts and Design (New York City). Solo museum exhibitions include the University of Wyoming Museum of Art (Laramie), the Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan), the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art (Grand Rapids), the Arkansas Arts Center (Little Rock), University of Maine Museum of Art (Urono), Museum of Contemporary Art (Jacksonville), Lakatamia Municipalia (Nicosia, Cyprus), and the Polk Museum of Art (Lakeland). She had work shown at the DeCordova Museum (Boston), Frist Center for the Arts (Nashville), Evansville Art Museum (Indiana), Museum of Art (Ft. Lauderdale), Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (Winston-Salem), Telfair Museum of Art (Savannah), Tomio Koyama Gallery (Tokyo), Kentler International Drawing Space (Brooklyn), Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the Boca Raton Art Museum (Florida).  She was nominated for and selected for exhibition at the American Academy of Arts and Letters (New York City) where her work was purchased for museum collection.

Her work is featured in magazine and newspaper articles and published in Miami Contemporary Artists, ed., Paul Clemence and Julie Davidow, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2007. Her work is included in Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-humanoid Extraterrestrial Sexualities, ed., Kardambikis, Kahira and Silver, Encyclopedia Destructica Publishing, 2012; and highlighted in the chapter on contemporary metalpoint a comprehensive history of metalpoint by Dorothea Burns; The Luminous Trace: Drawing and Writing Drawing in Metalpoint, Archetype Publications, London, 2012. Her work is pictured and written about in the chapter on contemporary metalpoint in the recent book on historic metalpoint from the National Gallery (2015). Recently her work was spotlighted in an article in the international art magazine, Elephant, summer issue 2014 and Paradox Magazine (published out of Columbia).

Prusa has participated in numerous artist residencies, including Art Omi, a highly competitive international artist residency. She completed a four-month funded Artist in Industry residency at Kohler Company in 2013 and produced a large installation of ceramic work involving fiber optics and silverpoint drawing.

2014-15 solo exhibitions include Miami, Vancouver, and Taipei.  Recent group shows include New York City and Geneva, Switzerland.

The Art Economist Magazine featured Prusa as “an artist to watch” in their June 2011 issue.

Complete resume.

Carol Prusa website

Slideshow full captions

Carol Prusa, Unfathomable, silverpoint, graphite, titanium white pigment with acrylic binder on acrylic circle with aluminum leaf, 60 x 60 x 1.5 in., 2015.

Carol Prusa, Tubes of Erotic Concentration (on/off), silverpoint, graphite, titanium white pigment with acrylic binder on acrylic sphere with programmed internal light (light slowly fades on and off), 36 x 36 x 35 inches 2015.

Carol Prusa, Tubes of Erotic Concentration (detail), silverpoint, graphite, titanium white pigment with acrylic binder on acrylic sphere with programmed internal light (light slowly fades on and off), 2015.

Carol Prusa, Swallow, silverpoint on black gesso on fiberglass with fiber optics, 32 x 32 x 10 inches, 2014.

Carol Prusa, Creatrix, silverpoint, graphite, titanium white pigment with acrylic binder on fiberglass sculpture with programmed fiber optic lights, 32 x 32 x 10 inches, 2015.

Carol Prusa, Creatrix (detail), silverpoint, graphite, titanium white pigment with acrylic binder on fiberglass sculpture with programmed fiber optic lights, 2015.

Carol Prusa, Domus, silverpoint, graphite, titanium white pigment with acrylic binder on acrylic hemisphere with fiber optics, 29 x 48 x 12 inches, 2011.

Carol Prusa, Expansive, silverpoint, graphite, titanium white pigment with acrylic binder on acrylic hemisphere with aluminum leaf, 39 x 39 x 9 inches, 2015.

Carol Prusa, Expansive (detail), silverpoint, graphite, titanium white pigment with acrylic binder on acrylic hemisphere with aluminum leaf, 2015.