Things That Kill- Fred Birchman

Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #6 Part 3: Fred Birchman


1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
All of the objects are quite literally and obviously, “Things That Kill”. This was definitely not a stretch for me or outside my usual way of working in that I started with a kernel of an idea and riffed on it. It is a bit unusual for me to work thematically, but not too much of a stretch.

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
I took the theme (or the “objects” of the theme) and used them as a basis for the work. For “Overture”, I took the trappings of targets and target shooting and used those elements as an abstraction of sorts, hopefully subjugating the loaded (no pun intended) content. Same for “Hatchet Job”. An axe handle and blade are quite beautiful as objects by themselves and by detaching the pieces, that is a bit more evident. It’s probably no accident that a person could read certain things into the separated objects, such as the detachment of the head from the “heart”, but I view that as an ok subliminal response. Icing on the cake, if you will.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work  in “Things that Kill”?
I used to work as an illustrator for my day job and working with themes and content were a given. Conversely, I usually resist narrative or story telling with my studio (fine art) work. That’s hard to do when working with such charged content.

One thing I should admit is that, “Witness” was really Norman’s idea. He was responding to the wrecking balls that I have in many of my current drawings and he suggested I use that. My normal response is to immediately reject that kind of advice, but somehow it stuck and I like what turned out.

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