My work describes my love of unusual materials and techniques. I enjoy pushing beyond the boundaries of convention, beyond traditional approaches, beyond two-dimensional surfaces and into the world of the unexpected. I strive to find the limits of my materials with the intention of creating something surprising.
I am a process artist. Each step that occurs during the creation of a piece of artwork enriches my experience and influences the result. My materials often take on a life of their own and their vary nature informs my process. Ultimately, it is a collaboration between myself and those materials that shape the final piece.
My current body of work includes sculpture, installations, and sculptural books. A common thread running through my work is the use of paper and steel. I enjoy exploring the relationship between the rigidity of steel and the flexibility of paper - the hard and the soft, the fabricated and the organic. I have a great love for the versatility of paper. I manipulate it with wet-forming, origami and bookbinding techniques. Steel serves both as a structure and an embellishment. I weld it, bend it, forge it, and use its rust as a dye. I love the elements of repetition and progression. These aspects can be found in all of my work.
I am greatly influenced by the patterns and structures found in Nature. I’m fascinated by the minutiae of the natural world - the anatomy of a flower stem, the architecture of lichen. I seek to recreate my observations, but on a grand scale. My intention is to create an immersive experience for the viewer.
My greatest hope is to create artwork that means something. Artwork that provokes thought and allows me to express my personal experiences. I enjoy creating pieces that are full of symbolism. Often, the materials I use are metaphors for the message I’m trying to convey.
To me, it is most important to stay curious and to regularly ask myself the question “What if?” The answer to that question has allowed me to revel in some difficult artistic challenges and I am often rewarded with extraordinary results.
Pam Fortner was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico - a society that prized scientific achievement above all else and considered her proclivities for art unimportant. She was not afforded the opportunity to attend university, but credits her life experiences for being her greatest teachers. Her many occupations including professional pyrotechnics, wilderness guiding, and construction work, continue to influence her process and fearless use of tools and materials. This unconventional education has allowed her to develop a unique artistic practice.
Constantly curious and deeply connected to Nature, she draws both inspiration and materials from the natural world. Originally working in 2-dimensional acrylics, she progressed into 3-dimensional sculpture upon learning steel-working and book-binding skills. She describes herself as a welder, bookbinder and maker. By combining steel and paper, found clay, primitive pigments or natural materials, she creates sculpture that provides an immersive experience for the viewer. She lives in the wild desert of Abiquiú, New Mexico with her family.
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