Artist: Chad Fonfara

  • Artist Statement

    The Condemnations series began with my strong reaction to a cloud of red-winged blackbirds that fell dead on the streets and parkways of suburban Arkansas. The panoramic photos presented small black masses fixed in varying degrees of bodily trauma. I saw these angular, distorted forms as bodies first and birds second. They were alive to me in a way that living birds can’t be. A bird sitting on a wire is every bird, is the idea of a bird: commonplace and bereft of significance. These dead birds took on shapes that were disarranged, each one nuanced and unique. In death, they became highly individualized and expressive. I started creating these forms for myself in the studio to understand my strong, multifaceted reaction to this imagery.

    Equally influential to this series were the editorialized explanations for these mass red-winged deaths that included conspiracies, superstitions and religious divinations. With these interpretations, the facts of the event were subjugated to the personal doctrines of soothsayers and talking heads. This event and its hyperbolic rhetoric were, for me, evocative of the intentional misrepresentations that pervade the public discourse in relation to social ills, societal breakdowns, violent public acts or ecological disasters. I am interested in the negative social impact of these invented narratives and the ways in which they cause personal and collective harm: damnation, vilification, dehumanization.

    The Condemnations series has unfolded both as an investigation into the communicative abilities of form and as an examination of how interpretations of societal events are tailored to buttress personal, political or religious ideologies. For me this work originates from a place of confinement, reticence, prejudice, cowardice, ironies and doublespeak. It is an attempt to describe in imagery that which is essentially ineffable.


  • 2014       Steve Wake, private collection, Lincoln, NE

    Robert H. Culver Jr. private collection, Omaha, NE

    Rich and Luann Fienke, private collection, Lincoln NE


    2013       Steve Wake and Linda Esterling, private collection, Lincoln, NE


    2012       Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, NE


    Steve Wake and Linda Esterling, private collection, Lincoln, NE


    2011       Robert H. Culver Jr, Bemis Arts board of directors, private collection, Omaha, NE


  • 2014     The Greatness of Studio Glass, Gallery 72, Omaha, NE

    Museum of Nebraska Art Spirit: A Celebration of Art in the Heartland


    2013      Fred Simon Gallery ·

    Nebraska Arts Council Headquarters, Omaha, NE

    Regional juried artist selection


    37th Annual Smoky Hill Art Competition & Exhibition

    Artist In Action Installation, Salina, KS,


    2012       Botanical Exhibition

     Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH (international juried) catalogue


    Cases and Remains ·

    Walker Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Kearney, NE


    Menagerie, Sculpture Garden Gallery ·

    Museum of Nebraska Art Kearney, NE,

    Curator: Teliza Rodriguez


    2012       10th Annual Blanche Ames National Juried Exhibit

                                     North Easton, MA, (national) catalogue

    honorable mention


    Kansas Artist and Craftsman Material Mastery Exhibition

                                    Sabatini Gallery Topeka, KS,

    Juror: Sherry Leedy (regional)

    second place


    2012 Will’s Creek Survey Exhibition

                                    Cumberland, MD (national) catalogue

    Juror: Jay Fisher

    first place award


    Pilchuck Glass School 34th Annual Gala Auction

    Seattle, WA, international juried selection, catalogue


    2011       Nebraska Now, Chad Fonfara, Glass ·

    Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, NE,

    Curator: Teliza Rodriguez


    35th Annual Smoky Hill Art Competition & Exhibition

    Artist In Action Installation, Salina, KS,

    Juror: Don Osborn (national) catalogue

    Juror’s first choice


    Kansas Artist and Craftsman Material Mastery Exhibition

    Norman R. Eppink Gallery, Emporia, KS

    Juror: Elaine Henry


    Kansas Artist and Craftsman Members Exhibition

    Emporia Arts Council, Emporia, KS                (invitational)


    2009       Kansas Artists and Craftsman-Members Exhibition

    Moss-Thorn Gallery, Ft Hays, KS (invitational)


                    Kansas Artists and Craftsman Material Mastery Exhibition

    Moss-Thorn Gallery, Ft. Hays, KS,

    Jurors: Glen R. Brown, Linda Ganstrom


    Academia Invitational

    Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, NE

    Curator: Teliza Rodriguez catalogue


    2007       UNK Art Faculty Exhibition

    Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney , NE(group show)


    Abstraction: The Language of Art

    Strecker-Nelson Gallery, Manhattan, KS (group show)