Simone Fischer: a sermon for crows

Unearthing personal history through landscape, photography, found objects and sculpture, a sermon for crows orbits the shame of lost origins, resilience, mourning and place. As a woman who grew up on the hard edge of southeast Portland, Simone Fischer expresses her experience of landscape through the materiality of steel, which she views as an elemental relative connecting the poetic nature of iron in blood, bodies and metal. Surface treatment of steel rendered through rust and oxidation speaks to the emotional gravity of a complex, generational experience in Portland, resulting in a non-linear reckoning of history, archival research, lived experience and place. Simone works with metal as homage to her elders, welding blue-collar technical skill as a source of power and world-building. Through sculpture, gleaned objects and photography, Simone creates work about liminal spaces, ephemera and ghosts who helped create the social fabric of the landscape we see today.

a sermon for crows will be exploring Simone’s wayward archive of southeast 82nd Ave, pulling from multigenerational family wisdom, her personal experience of this place, EBT cards, death metal, the Johnson Creek watershed, the New Copper Penny and I-205. She weaves unusual, but specific details like a melted shopping cart pulled from her landscape to comment on the emotional links between consumption, labor, violence and exploitation. The global Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the most vulnerable communities and thrust Portland into national spotlight for historic protests addressing racial injustice sparked the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Marked as an “anarchist jurisdiction”, the city has undergone a brutal, but long overdue reckoning with its own marred history and origin story. Simone translates the psychogeography of the landscape to confront the past, present and future through the subversion of documentary (printed on large four-by-five- foot steel sheets) to the point of illegibility. The dissolving, rusted images reject nostalgia bringing viewers to the present through physical overwhelm and bodily confrontation with various materials. Image distortion opens up the meaning to those who might not have deep ties to Portland but can still feel the evocative nature of the work.

A month before the exhibition opening, Simone tragically lost one of her good friends to an overdose and created steel immemorial to honor loved ones lost during the covid-19 pandemic. During a time of mass grief, steel immemorial gives viewers space to process, mourn and find peace in a world struggling to recover. a sermon for crows manifests as ritual documentary with a deeply-rooted experience of place with hopes of reconnection. Simone elevates mundane objects from her neighborhood within a gallery setting to reassert value and visually point to the conversations we ignore, the feelings we try to hide and the landscapes that hold us. Simone reveals her personal challenges of living in a working-class town, growing up with incarcerated family, addiction and through material as resilience and support.

Simone Fischer (b.1991, Portland, OR) is a multidisciplinary visual artist who specializes in photography, archives, installation, sculpture, writing and performance. She earned a BA in gender studies & philosophy at Portland State University in 2013, and an MFA in visual studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2020. Simone sculpts and photographs as a source of power, reclamation and world building. Her work asks aesthetic questions about class, possession and allocation of power in America, and is specifically concerned with the power dynamics of late-stage capitalism in relation to urban decay and memory. Simone is a born-and-raised Oregonian who photographs wayward landmarks using the visual language of documentary to express narratives of humor, urban decay and defiance within her images. Conceptually, Simone uses photography, acid and steel to coalesce internalized ideas about identity, class, eastside visual codes and social disorder. Attempting to reconcile lost bloodlines in the desolate capitalist landscape, Simone works with steel and the poetics of iron, blood and the body, to speak to her West Coast, working-class upbringing in Portland. Using steel, photography and other ubiquitous materials of industry, Simone coalesces ideas about class, identity/belonging, hyper-consumption and social disorder through embedded research and archival ritual. Simone was the recipient of The Regional Arts & Culture Council’s Make|Learn|Build grant in 2021. Her work has been shown in multiple venues around Portland, including the Lodge Gallery (2018), 511 Gallery at PNCA (2020) and her first solo show “213” at the Glass Gallery at PNCA (2020). She has exhibited internationally at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany (2020). In October 2019, Simone attended the Caldera Arts Artist in Residence program in Sisters, OR. Simone was the 2021 artist-in-residence at After/Time Gallery where she produced her first publication ANTITOURS 1.