Jan Fisher, November 18, 2023


Jan Fisher, November 18, 2023
Jan Fisher
Ariana Gerard
Art History
Art World
Changing Interpretations
Contemporary Art
Scuplture Space
Utica, New York
Jan Pardee Fisher was born on October 30, 1950, in Dayton, Ohio. She is currently a retired therapist who lives in Clinton, New York. Jan Fisher is an artist who makes sculpture and paintings, and art has long played a vital role in her life. From an early age, she was involved with art and her role as an artist has become a key part of her identity. Her interests and involvement in the arts has shifted throughout her life, but her passion for the arts has never changed even when she switched careers from working with art to working as a therapist. She deeply admires the creativity and feeling that the art process evokes in both the audience and the artists and through her retirement has continued to paint pictures of landscapes, seascapes, and portraits in a studio.

She was involved early on with Sculpture Space in the late 1970s. She was the first woman to be an artist in residence there. She came to the organization in a time when the art world was shifting into a contemporary art perspective. What was considered art was redefined and led to new definitions of art, as there were no longer strict interpretations of what an art object was. It was also a time that was dominated by white men with power and privilege. While Sculpture Space itself never perpetuated sexist ideas or made Jan feel different for being a woman, the broader art world in this era often discriminated against women. Despite changing ideas about art and what it meant to be an artist, women like Jan were still excluded and did not have the same opportunities as white men to participate in these movements. Despite limitations, Jan was able to be greatly involved with Sculpture Space, and the organization has meant a great deal to her as an artist through the connections she made and the experiences she had there—and still has today.

I interviewed Mrs. Fisher at her home in Clinton, New York. This interview was done at the request of Sculpture Space, Inc. as part of a project to collect the history of the organization. Jan recalls the early days of Sculpture Space, sharing her experiences. She discusses how she was shaped and changed by her role with the organization. Beyond the organization itself, the interview includes observations about how the art scene has shifted over time. She also discusses how art has shaped her identity.

In transcribing, I tried my best to replicate as accurately as possible what she said, outside of filler phrases or false starts. Her speech flows naturally, and I wanted to preserve as much of it as possible. I felt that fixing and editing too much would make the interview not flow as nicely, and it would feel stricter and less inviting than it was originally intended. I wanted to ensure that the audience was getting as much of the interview as I did when listening to it. Researchers are encouraged to consult the original recordings.
Time Summary
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Ariana Gerard
Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York at Oneonta
Sculpture Space, Utica, NY