international drawing annual 5 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Rob Tarbell
Crozet, Virginia

pages 172-173


In my practice, making art is as much about directing intent as it is about scientific tinkering. All of my diverse work is linked by the transformation and manipulation of traditional materials and the exploration of non-traditional ones. The loss of an original and the use of elaborate processes are inherent to the creation of the smokes, paintings, and porcelain series. The work intends to both balance accident with control and give permanence to the ephemeral.

Smokes consist of images that are created by capturing smoke on paper as evidence of a transformation and preservation of the ephemeral. During the process, credit cards, grocery cards, gift cards, photos, and slides of my artwork are burned to remove their growing presence in daily life, an ironic nod to a self-help technique of burning sentimental things to remove their emotional burden. The performing animal images in the Smokes parallel the drawing process. The trainer must recognize and respect the innate nature of an animal when trying to modify its behavior to achieve a desired outcome: e.g. training a bear to dance or training a horse to walk upright. The same is true in working with smoke. The inherent properties of smoke must be respected, then permitted to - and yet discouraged from - acting naturally.



born:1967, Findlay, Ohio


University of Tennessee, MS, 1994
University of Tennessee, MFA 1993
Auburn University, BFA, 1990

selected awards/honors

Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Moulin a Nef, Auvillar, France, Fellowship, 2010
Weir Farm Art Center, Wilton, Connecticut, Artist in Residence, 2010
Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Amherst, Virginia, Residency, 2009
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Professional Artist Fellowship, 2007

selected publications

Studio Visit. Edited by Steven T. Zevitas. Vol 8. Boston, MA: The Open Studios Press, 2009.
Studio Visit. Edited by Steven T. Zevitas. Vol 6. Boston, MA: The Open Studios Press, 2009.
Scalin, Noah. Skulls. Asheville: Lark Books, 2008.
National Drawing Annual, 2006. Edited by J. Franz. Cincinnati, OH: Manifest Press, 2006.

selected solo or two-person exhibits

Meet the Struggles & Smoke Rings, Decorazon Gallery, Dallas, TX, 2009
Diagnostics, Smoyer Gallery, Roanoke College, Roanoke, VA, 2009
Smoke Rings, Gallery Imperato, Baltimore, MD, 2009
New Work, Krause Gallery, Atlanta, GA, 2009

selected group shows

Isolation, Hemphill Fine Art - Carrol Square Gallery, Washington, D.C., 2010
Art of Play, Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2009
Sweet Summertime, Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, Virginia, 2009
Aqua Art Miami, Miami, FL (Krause Gallery & Les Yeux du Monde), 2009

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