5 Questions: Artist Ally Fouts

Untitled (#2), Detail | Size Varies, 35mm Film Photograph, © Ally Fouts 2020

1.What’s been keeping you up at night?

My neighbor’s dog is what wakes me up, but the thought that he might be barking at someone hanging outside of my bedroom window is what keeps me up.

Instrumented Image, 20 12”x12” each, Silver Gelatin Photomontage Prints, Particle Board, © Ally Fouts 2019

2. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or heard lately?

The coolest thing I have seen lately is a series of rogue cinder blocks around the city. This is not some metaphor and I haven’t found the words to quite explain why they are important to me, but each time I find one of these estranged gems around the city I have to stop to look at it for a while. Physically, the material and shape of these objects are as secure and mundane as any object can be. But, when I see them by themselves or in odd places, they instantly feel animated to me as if each block has its own personality. I keep a photo journal of them for my own musings, but I expect to see them eventually trickle into my body of work.

Cinderblock Journal, Size Varies, Digital Photographs, © Ally Fouts 2020

3. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?

Lately, I have had an appetite for lumen prints. They challenge me to think of the constructed image in reverse of the desired outcome image. A common thread in my work is to create images in one realm and transfer into another, and another, then another. With these specific lumen prints, I have been making images derived from simple design principles, printing them on a transparent vellum, and placing these sheets on light-sensitive paper in place of the object of imagery that will then be revealed on the lumen print. Working with sunlight entertains me; as soon as I think I have figured out how to control it, the ending result is never quite what I expected.

Architectural Study 1, 8”x10” Lumen Print, © Ally Fouts 2020

Architectural Study 2, 8”x10” Lumen Print0, © Ally Fouts 2020

Architectural Study 4, 8”x10” Lumen Print, © Ally Fouts 2020

4. If you could add anyone, alive or dead to your team, who would it be?

Ruth Asawa. I have questions for her I simply need answers to. Her ability to take ordinary materials and turn them into intricate and deliciously constructed objects is inspiring. Considering her reputation, she seems to have been a fruitful person to collaborate with. She could teach me a thing or two about patience. The detail of her sculptures reveal a certain level of tenacity and focus required of the object in front of her. Meanwhile, I can barely let a print bake in the sun for a few hours without moving onto the next project, often forgetting about the print altogether.

Untitled (#21), Size Varies, 35mm Film Photograph, © Ally Fouts 2020

Untitled (#16), Size Varies, 35mm Film Photograph, © Ally Fouts 2020

Untitled (#2), Size Varies, 35mm Film Photograph, © Ally Fouts 2020

5. When the movie of your life is made, what will it be called?

“Hot Soup on a Hot Day.” I have a gift for making harmless, yet questionable decisions.

Big Mouth, 10”x13” Silver Gelatin Photomontage Prints, Glass, PVC Pipe, © Ally Fouts 2018


Currently living in Chicago, Illinois, Ally Fouts is a mixed media artist exploring notions of composition with materials including melamine board, fishing line, video, found objects, and photographs. There is a specific visual sense infiltrated throughout her range of media that reveals an emphasis on form and structure, both seen and implied. Ally works to explore the conversations that occur across media with a special emphasis on sculpture and photography.

Cage, 18”x37” Particle Board, Nails, Fishing Line, Light, © Ally Fouts 2018

Cage, 18”x37” Particle Board, Nails, Fishing Line, Light, © Ally Fouts 2018

Her work explores the idea of creating sculptures that only exist when photographically processed. Using investigative darkroom techniques, Ally employs photograms and superimposed image-making, using particleboard, nails, and fishing line sculptures as the instrumentation. These sculptures, made of traditional tradesmen media, challenge the material that usually constructs a respected sculpture. Also challenging the line that separates sculpture and carpentry, Ally relies on the material she grew up surrounded by in her father’s garage as the primary media used in the sculptures. The resulting images derived from these “instruments” highlight these materials and create a sophisticated and novel perspective of them.

Cardboard Chair, Size Varies, 35mm Film Photograph, © Ally Fouts 2020

Ally also utilizes light and light-sensitive materials to create and replicate images derived from her existing photographs or prints. She primarily works with the cyclical pattern of photographing, printing, and arranging images (then repeating these three steps on the resulting image).

Also working as a designer, Ally integrates design theory into her art practice. These explorations involve the thread of design traveling from how information on a piece of paper is digested to how a building is soundly constructed. She enjoys employing, encouraging, and challenging basic design principles to achieve often surprising outcomes.

Check out more of her work on Instagram and her website.