2019 Southern Prize Finalist and Florida Fellow
Southern Prize Finalist
Delray Beach, Florida
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Southern Prize and State Fellowship
Amy Gross was born on Long Island, New York, and received her BFA from the Cooper Union in New York City. After a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, she started a graphic design company, and for over twenty years worked as a surface designer, specializing in textiles and children’s products. She designed bedding, slumber bags, beach towels, plush animals, puppet theaters and toys. In 2000 she moved to South Florida and, fascinated by the subtropical environment and the intricate, accelerated natural growth there, began making hand-beaded jewelry. Her work expanded to embroidered canvases, then sculpture that merged observed natural elements with invented life forms.
In 2006, Gross received a grant from the South Florida Cultural Consortium. Her mixed media sculpture is represented by Momentum Gallery in Asheville, NC, and Watson MacRae Gallery in Sanibel, FL. She recently completed an installation for Culture Lab West Palm Beach that “grew” over a period of six months inside of an emptied department store. Selected exhibits include the Craft and Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles, The Minnesota Museum of Art, the Racine Art Museum, the Rockland Center for the Arts, the Boca Raton Museum of Art, and fairs Art Wynwood and SOFA. Her work is part of the permanent collection of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has appeared in Fiber Arts Magazine, American Craft Magazine, The Washington Post, and the art and culture blogs Colossal and TreeHugger. She was featured in an article in the Spring 2016 issue of Fiber Art Now Magazine, and was the issue’s cover artist. She is featured in two recent Schiffer Press books, Artistry in Fiber, Sculpture, and Dimensional Cloth, Sculpture by Contemporary Textile Artists. She lives and works in Delray Beach, Florida.
My hand-embroidered and beaded fiber sculptures are my attempt to merge together the natural world and my own inner life. Their symbiosis suggests not only what can be seen, but also what cannot: the early alterations of time, the first suggestions of disintegration. I’ve always been attracted and frightened by things that are on the edge of spoiling, or straining to support an excess of growth. My elements cluster, tangle, cling and multiply. They adapt to the environments they are placed into, like much of Florida life, and become hybrids in their desire to survive and thrive.
And yet, paradoxically, they are the result of an exercise in human control – they are completely unnatural. I never collaborate with the nature that fascinates me, the myriad visible and invisible interactions that lie at the heart of every insect, bacteria, tree and spore. I use no found objects, nothing that was ever alive. All are constructed with craft store yarns and beads and wire and paper and fabric transfers. Consequently, my organisms will not die. They’re still and silent proxies, fictions frozen in the midst of their suggested transformation. They become metaphors for the anxieties I feel towards our unstable environment, and an attempt to comfort myself with ideas of their adaptability and potential for survival. I know that my making these objects will not slow or stop the clock, but I need to hold things still, to try to have a say in a volatile, uncontrollable world of change.
Medium: Paper, fabric, thread, yarns, beads, glass, resin,
Size (h x w x d): Dimensions vary, each within 8 inches
A selection of recent sculptures from a continuing project, Collection, that began in 2010. 66 objects have been made to this date. A biotope is a small contained environment for a selection of interdependent animals and plants.
Silver Bees and Black and White Warblers, Adapting
Medium: Paper, yarn, fabric, thread, beads, plastic
Size (h x w x d): 42 x 75 x 13, the rest continues on 4 sides
Installation in emptied department store, to suggest my organisms and bees and birds continuing to adapt and develop in an abandoned space. During a 6 month period, it literally grew.
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