Beverly Fishman’s work combines art and technology to explore the relationship between how we, and modern medicine, view and treat our physical and mental health.
Early Life and Education
Beverly Fishman was born in 1955 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her BFA from Philadelphia College of Art in 1977 and went on to Yale University, where she received her MFA in 1980.
She moved to New York and then to Michigan, where she currently lives and works.
Fishman said that illness in her family in the 1980s led her to explore questions of the body and disease. “The AIDS crisis reinforced my interest in exploring how our culture defined us as either sick or healthy,” she said, “and how our bodies—our chemical and physical compositions, our DNA, the viruses we acquired—strongly determined who and what we were. It made me all the more aware that I was dealing with issues of identity as defined by science and culture and how critical those issues were to me. Perhaps even more importantly, AIDS had a huge impact on the ways in which I approached my work and my life. I saw close friends die in their twenties. It made me realize how fragile life was, and how our time on earth was finite. The crisis taught me that being alive and healthy was a profound gift, and that if I wanted to be an artist, I needed to live my life as an artist every day.”
Fishman uses polished steel, resin and industrial alloys under powder-coat bright and neon colors to make her works both seductive and jarring, like the physical and mood-altering drugs that modern society uses to obtain healthier and happier lives.
Fishman’s works have been shown in solo exhibits in galleries in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Thessaloniki, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Detroit. Her works are part of the permanent collections of the Miami Art Museum, the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio and Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Connecticut as well as other public and private collections. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship Award, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant, an Artist Space Grant, two Ford Foundation Grants and the 2018 the Anonymous Was a Woman award, dedicated to women artists over the age of 40.
Last year, her 170 x 60 foot mural Rise was unveiled at the Detroit City Club Apartments in downtown Detroit. Fishman said that the music of Motown has always been the soundtrack of her life.
She has been the artist-in residence and head of the painting department at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, a northern suburb of Detroit. Fishman is married to Matthew Biro, a professor of modern and contemporary art at the University of Michigan.