Born 1946, Fayetteville, TN, USA
For Frances Bagley, the human figure is never fully present or clearly illustrated. Her sculptures are echoes of the figure. In form and material, the body always is the point of reference because it is a universal point of human empathy.
While her objects implicate the human form, which harken back to a repertoire of classical sculpture, our innate connection with the body is destabilized through her use of abstraction. Similar to the scaffolding used for her stone and marble-stacked sculptures, Bagley’s metal structures visibly support her foam figures and resin casts. Her support constructions, however, are visually balanced and therefore, conceptually-equalized. These deliberate creative decisions disrupt our perception, making us sensitive to what we see and more importantly, what we sense.
The artist often inverts relationships using materials that link the body to decontextualized but symbolic parts of our anatomy. An empty female torso made of woven wicker material recalls the basket-weaving process but in form, suggests the vessels of pottery making. Meaning is created through process and is embedded within materials and visual iconography. Human hair is meticulously woven to create a minimalist grid or an elaborately beautiful but unsettling braided rug. Again and again, metaphors of physique are teased out; phenomenological processes are sublimated. We recognize how inherent the body is to how we know and learn because the body is inextricably married to meaning.
Fundamentally, her practice is not overtly feminist. Works are not created for political action nor armed with a social agenda. Bagley sets the stage where there is no longer a protagonist for the story because the status of her human figure is subverted. The universal symbol of humanity is male, but within her works, the female form plays a more ambiguous role.
Frances Bagley holds an MFA from the University of North Texas. Since 1980, she has exhibited extensively all over the United States as well as Japan and Brazil. Her works have been collected in institutions including the Dallas Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC, the El Paso Museum of Art along with corporate collections such as American Airlines and Pepsi-Co. In 2008, she was the first American to be awarded at the Kajima Sculpture Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan.
The artist lives and works in Dallas, Texas.