One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For Aaron Fowler, the ability to turn those discarded items into works of art has caught the eye of Artspace, which named him one of the 10 best new artists to watch.
Fowler, who grew up in Ferguson, studied fine art at St. Louis Community College’s Florissant Valley campus. He then received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he was awarded the Friends of PAFA Scholarship, the Academy Merit Scholarship, the Angel Pinto Prize for Experimental Work, and the Yale School of Art Scholarship. He graduated from Yale in 2014 and currently lives and works in New York City.
Since graduating from Yale, Fowler has been taking the art world by storm. He’s had major shows in New York and Los Angeles, and has been featured in numerous reviews and articles.
In describing Fowler’s work, Christopher Knight wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Aaron Fowler’s raucous assemblage paintings are packed with stuff. The term ‘mixed media’ barely encapsulates materials that include shimmering silvery CDs, bits of clothing, folding tables, trash bags, inkjet photos and mud.”
Pulling from reality and his imagination, Fowler’s work describes certain conditions of the human experience, and memorializes individuals who are important to him. Using discarded materials from his immediate environment, Fowler communicates ideas about transformation, community and salvation. Metaphorical imagery symbolize those who are left to navigate the world with the tools society has left for them, and those who get stuck in its constructs.
“My work references issues I’ve experienced in my personal history, specifically my growing up in St. Louis, an urban community full of poverty, materialism and violence,” Fowler said.
Eric Shultis, professor in fine arts at STLCC-Florissant Valley, describes Fowler’s work as genuine and true.
“I think probably the greatest thing would be how real Aaron is. In the midst of the art world glut of cynicism, so-called sophistication and jaded Post Modern relativism, Aaron’s work is direct, honest, cuttingly perceptive and relentlessly real,” Shultis said. “His vision is complex and rich and beautiful because that is what he knows. His voice is not about the spotlight of current events regarding the Black experience in the United States, it is the voice of one who is that experience. It is a voice rich and resonant and powerful and beautiful and celebratory. This is what is different, and why Aaron is important now.”
Shultis added that Fowler’s metaphors are recognizable and easily understood for their references.
“What is great is how he sabotages these to create and present a new story in the art scene,” Shultis said.
Here are some links to articles about Fowler and his work: