Ron Fondaw began his career in painting, and had his first one-person show in the local gas station in his hometown of Paducah, Kentucky, at age 11. After receiving his MFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana, he moved to Miami, Florida, where he worked for the next 15 years. It was there that he honed a keen use of color. Ron works with a variety of materials, but it is the activity of drawing that continues to play an important part in his sculpture, from the large-scale adobe works to drawings in cast metal and his use of lighting. Ron also taught at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, before coming to Washington University, where he is a professor of sculpture. Ron has worked and lectured in Japan and Denmark as well as numerous sites around the United States. He has received a Guggenheim Award for sculpture, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a Pollack/Krasner Award. His works can be seen in several major collections around the world, including The Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.
The work I have produced over the last few years has centered on issues of permanence and the passage of time. I render these ideas in sculptural forms using natural materials such as clay, glass, pigments, and fire. For me, these materials bring meaning, infusing the forms with a bodily quality that at times is fragile and at other times is enduring. Recently I have realized that our personal memories as well as the collective memory of humans is one of the most powerful forces at work in our lives, affecting almost every decision we make.
Making art for me is an altered state of conscience where I am swimming between thought, fantasy, and emotion, navigating a territory that I do not fully recognize. I begin with a plan and often a drawing of what I wish to make. Once I engage with the materials and process, I am ever-ready to take a different path should a better solution present itself.
For dean Carmon Colangelo, drawing is both an expressive art and a daily practice. He discusses drawing, the importance of confidence, and the advantage of starting in the middle of the book in this Q&A.