Brentwood artist Alison Fullerton returned to America in 2019 in a bit of culture shock. Living in Europe for 3 years she was accustomed to open ateliers, apprenticeships, and publicly-supported artist guilds and exhibitions. Hiding out in 2020 Fullerton slept on a pull-down bed in her Brentwood studio, lifting it up each morning to make space to paint. Despite 2020’s adversities and closed galleries, Fullerton had unexpected blessings. Her paintings of resilient women warriors were selected to inspire people during the 2020 pandemic and appeared on 10 Nashville billboards.
“Wax Narratives” at JCC Galleries features Fullerton’s American anthropologies from 2020: Native Women Warriors, Civil Rights Protest Singers, and Zoom Babies. Her art will be on display at the The JCC Gallery, located at the Gordon Jewish Community Center, 801 Percy Warner Blvd, Nashville, from July 3-30. The gallery is open M-F until 7:15pm, weekends until 4:45p.
Fullerton has exhibited throughout the US and Europe, has work in university and museum collections, has authored articles about encaustic, and has been on billboards and magazine covers.
Fullerton is a contemporary portrait artist working in encaustic, an ancient medium using beeswax fused with heat. She paints by layering and scraping molten wax to reveal her subject physically and emotionally. Wax dries quickly, so she paints fast and spontaneously. Her colorful, tactile portraits have a unique luminosity and depth.
Living and traveling in Europe from 2016-2019, Fullerton sketched people in coffee shops and streets across Europe. Returning to her studio in Germany, she began slathering the sketches in wax. She found that wax mimics flesh, giving skin a chromatic richness that is impossible to create in other mediums. Fullerton began finding ways to work the wax in a more painterly fashion. While most artists blend colors on the palette, Fullerton blends skin tones by layering wax, alternating opacity and transparency, and using an iron.
Fullerton’s work is built around visual anthropology narratives about different cultures and people. “Anthropologists collect photos. I paint what I observe.” Inspired by the diverse cultures across Europe, her subjects ranged from the colorful Catalan dancers in Barcelona, to the smiling eyes of the ever-friendly Irish. Upon moving to the US she studied indigenous Americans and discovered the untold stories of Native American women warriors who fought lockstep with male warriors. Fullerton’s Native Women Warriors were selected to provide inspiration to people feeling overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic and appeared on 10 Nashville billboards in 2020.