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Zoe Fitch is a contemporary figurative abstract painter and current MFA student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL. Fitch accomplished her BFA at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS in 2019. As a Mississippi native, she aspires to tell her personal perspective through her Southern narratives. Fitch looks to influences in Southern culture including flora, wildlife, quilts, clothes making, cooking and other “female-centric” duties. Inspired by her female relatives, Fitch pays homage to the past while commenting on recurring issues.

Artist Statement

Through layers of paint and mixed media, I investigate femininity from the perspective of the Southern woman. Using materials from specific places such as red clay and kudzu from Alabama and Mississippi, I am able to connect the narrative in the painting to its setting. I use kudzu as a metaphor for hiding personal and societal issues as this regional weed cloaks the southeastern landscape. The tension between the grotesque and the beautiful fascinates me. 

Traditions associated with domestic female gender roles inspire my work such as quilting, and a no-waste mentality has persisted from my impoverished upbringing. Fabric collage elements break the square format of the canvas, as if the painting is becoming one with the surrounding environment. While I am inspired by people and places in the Southeast, my intention is for the viewer to connect more broadly to a sense of maternal essence and lurking darkness. 

I connect stereotypical Southern opulence to Southern Gothic by using symbolism and icons to tell the story of the characters I create and question how valid these belief systems are. I do this by using found objects and fabric hoarded by my great-grandmother and mother. The characters in this narrative are based on the women in this region that came before me and those that will come after me, as well as a foreshadowing of my future self. I want to write my own narrative in paint as a response to a lifetime of observations. The work to continues to give homage to regionalism, while at the same time display the visual agony and ecstasy of growing up Southern.