Florida Prize in Contemporary Art –

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dana Hargrove graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art at Dundee University, with a BFA with Honors in Painting. She continued her education in the United States at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where she received an MFA. Today, Hargrove is a Full Professor of Studio Art at Rollins College, Winter Park.

Wall, is a new installation created to confront visitors entering the exhibition. Fabricated with flattened shipping boxes on which Hargrove has painted towering stacks of blocks in bold graphic lines, Wall is both a physical barrier and a representation, a reality and a metaphor. The configuration of stacked blocks is based on stone piles called “Cairns,” which are scattered on hilltops across rural Scotland. Here Hargrove gathers them together to form another kind of intervention in landscape, one that divides space, geography and sometimes people.

Cairns are a point of departure for a variety of Hargrove’s works including painting, sculpture and photography. Cairns are hand built stone by stone, often over long periods of time, by locals and visitors to memorialize their hike to the summit of a hill. Hargrove says of these markers, “Cairns, for me, are loaded with ideals, of the constructs we gather through life, concepts surrounding what it means to have commune or live near/with each other. These remnants of life and community, thick with the residue of history and folklore, are adopted, simulated, and transplanted within my paintings and sculptures in order to contrast with an over-produced culture that has a somewhat contradictory respect for the real.”

In other works Hargrove transforms the stone piles into vividly colored sculptures and reliefs. Cairn, 2013, is a sprawling horizontal jumble of painted boxes. Though its elements are abstract, the composition suggests a rambling collection of buildings gathered in landscape. Arcadia ii-viii also has architectural associations, but the verticality of these towers suggests more urban structures. These brightly colored towers of irregular geometric shapes suggest buildings and perhaps cities that have grown organically over time.

Hargrove’s paintings, Façade 9 and Façade,10, on the other hand, explicitly represent features of real urban architecture, such as plate glass windows, steel frame doors and concrete beams. She deconstructs these ubiquitous elements of the modern city into fragmented and nearly abstract compositions. Like the cairns, these paintings are complex and beautifully orchestrated compositions, but their surfaces are hard and sharp, expressing another vision of the places we live.

“Landscape, and how we manipulate it to fit preconceived ideas or corporatized molds, has become familiar territory for my art practice,” says Hargrove. “Whether I am exploring the urban environment with its homogenized grid of rectangular blocks, or examining how culture frames and re-frames landscape, I remain responsive to how our perceptions of the world and sense of place are shaped by human design.”

—Hansen Mulford, Curator at the Orlando Museum of Art, 2017


Orlando Weekly interview by Esteban Meneses

Orlando Weekly reviews the Florida Prize 2017 by Richard Reep and Jessica Bryce Young