As graduation draws near for Paige Fox, she’s excited to jump into a career as a professional artist.
But that’s not all the Hocking College Art and Design major has to be excited about.
Fox, who grew up in Bucyrus, Ohio, received an honorable mention for her installation “Connectedness.”
The piece consists of handmade ceramic mushrooms. Some are made to look like mushrooms used for medicinal purposes, and others are used in cooking.
“I wanted to talk about how mushrooms can not only be medicinal but can be a way to get food,” Fox explained. “By going mushroom hunting, it gets you out in the woods. You get quality time with family. You get quality time with nature, and you get the satisfaction of finding something and being self-sufficient.”
The medicinal-like ceramic mushrooms are displayed in small jars on shelves surrounding a circular tree branch Fox found while walking.
“I’d passed it multiple times, and I was like, ‘I want that,’” she said with a laugh. “I thought it would be perfect to tie in somehow, but I just didn’t know how in the beginning.”
Inside the branch’s circle is a basket where the edible mushrooms are displayed.
Fox also created ceramic circles in which she grew different mushrooms to become part of the installation.
“Mushrooms themselves connect things too,” Fox said during a small private reception at the gallery. “They connect trees to send nutrients between them, allowing them to kind of communicate to one another.
“All of it is connected,” she added. “Mushrooms connect us back to nature and nature to itself.”
Fox said she started mushroom hunting after meeting her husband, Grant Fox.
“You just get so excited, once you’ve been looking all day for them,” she said. “it’s exciting and rewarding.”
Goller said she’s proud of the work Fox has done.
“Especially in a nationally juried show like this, it’s just a sign of the level Paige is producing on,” Goller said. “It’s been really easy to see Paige as a professional for a long time. I think between this and her Etsy store. Those are kind of just the cherry on the top.”
After graduating, Fox plans to use her Etsy store where sells more functional works like the tea set she created as part of “Connectedness” but entered as it’s own work in the Majestic show and her job as a studio assistant with the Hocking Makers Network to launch her career as a professional artist.
Finding the right path
An art career wasn’t always the plan for Fox.
Before starting at Hocking College, she spent five years working as a hairstylist.
Art was a hobby, but nothing very serious.
“I tried to take some pottery classes as a hobby and didn’t really stick with it,” she said.
When her husband decided to go back to school and study Wildlife Resources Management at Hocking College, Fox decided to see if there was something at the college that would interest her.
“I was like ‘You know I’ll just see what they have,’” she recalled. “I saw there was an art program, and I’d always wanted to do art. I decided to get serious about it and commit. It’s always been a hobby, so I took the jump into a career.”
Now Fox is the one teaching art classes to hobbyists.
As the studio assistant for the Hocking Makers Network’s visual arts classes, she teaches ceramics on her own and helps in other flameworking and ceramics classes.
“It’s been really easy to see Paige as a professional for a long time,” Goller said. “She brings a level of professionalism to the studio assistant job that you just don’t see from a lot of students or just workers in general.”
For Goller, this is the second time she has been featured in the show.
“Every year, they get seem really amazing work from Ohio University MFA candidates and local artists,” Goller said. “We’re both just really excited about being in the show.”
Last year Goller had one painting accepted; this year, three of her paintings from a much larger series were accepted.
“All of the imagery is pulled from vampire films,” she said, describing her series.
“I’ve done a lot of work around Romantic monsters and how we’re experiencing a retelling of a lot of those stories and a lot of those monsters through superhero films and vampire films,” she said. “I’m really interested in what it said when they were originally produced and what does it say about our culture now.”
The Majestic National show runs through Dec. 6 at Majestic Galleries, 20 Public Square, in Nelsonville, Ohio.
How can I study Art and Design at Hocking College?
Whether you are already an established artist or you’re just beginning to explore your artistic side, this program offers you an opportunity to develop techniques and professional skills to be competitive in your field. At Hocking College, students develop the skills necessary to become accomplished artists in the two-year art and design degree program.
The program is split into two tracks: Studio Design and Graphic Design.
Through business and marketing courses, students develop presentation, marketing and management skills while learning to handle taxes, permits, pricing and distribution. Students have opportunities to network with working artisans and statewide arts organizations.