Muralist and multi-media artist Adam Ball returns to the Goss-Michael Foundation for the institutional solo exhibit The Space Between

JAMES RUSSELL  | Staff Writer


MAKING HIMSELF PART OF THE ART | Ball used replications of his own DNA to make this henna-like wall tattoo. Ball specializes in employing unusual media for his larger-than-life pieces.


Art by Adam Ball.
Goss-Michael Foundation,
1405 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Sept. 5–Oct. 4.

The night before his first major work went on public display, Adam Ball was terrified.

“It was early in my career,” he says by telephone from his London home. “It could’ve been bad.”

Ball doesn’t worry as much any more about being bad. He’s arrived, as they say in the art world. From that 2002 debut in London’s busy Golden Square — the painting of a tree, standing 32 feet tall and 23 feet wide, was at the time one of Britain’s largest art projects — Ball has proven his bona fides.

The project “was a great learning process,” he says. “I was pushing and challenging myself to make a big project. I thought it would take six months. I was naïve and young. I had nothing to lose.”

He’s come a long way since then.

His latest exhibit, The Space Between, opens Sept. 5 at Dallas’ Goss-Michael Foundation, which specializes in edgy works by contemporary British artists.

This mid-career artist is no stranger to Dallas. His first solo show here was in 2007 (also at Goss-Michael) and he has been back multiple times since. He has contributed to the RE:DEFINE fundraisers benefitting HIV/AIDS research. Foundation founder Kenny Goss considers him a friend. He has also exhibited internationally including in Bahrain, France and Spain.

The Space Between, a collaboration between curatorial group the Future Tense and Goss-Michael, examines the blurring lines between science, technology and nature. Working with charcoal (one of his primary media), gives viewers a peek into Ball’s fascination with both nature and science, looking at the recent advances in areas like genetic modification, imagining their influence on the artist’s practice.

“By playing with context and scale, everything can conceivably be interchangeable,” Ball says in a statement. “By choosing how to layer, combine and modify these technically incompatible images… I found I could respond almost instinctively, blurring the boundaries between laboratory, studio and gallery.”

Ball has always been influenced by science and nature, going outside and taking photographs. But as an artist, he did not have the language to articulate the evolution and dynamics of the natural world. Collaborating with scientists and other professionals to find new source material for these works, working with others also provided access to power and knowledge. “It’s liberating now to have these contacts,” he says.

Those professionals, who work in a wide range of disciplines — chemistry and environmental science, among them — and have an in-depth knowledge of their field, provided not simply materials, but also the language to articulate complex ideas. The collaboration contributed to the creation of his voice.

That voice included expanding the dialogue between nature and modern science and, for The Space Between, exploring science’s influence on his body. With the help of a collaborator, he was able to get a photo of his own DNA. After stripping it down, he identified key pieces of the DNA puzzle specific to him and made it into a self-portrait.

He couldn’t have taken on this bold project when he first erected the 32-foot tree a decade ago. He had to find his voice. That required developing his confidence. “I’m less influenced by what’s going on around me now, though I keep my eyes open,” says Ball.

Future Tense founder Ed Bartlett, who numbers Ball among his friends, says his art is a way of exploring the future. Ever since Ball and his wife Kerry welcomed a son, Jasper, “He’s been thinking about being a father and what the future holds.”
Ball, modest, ruminative and clearly sincere, agrees. Jasper’s birth and becoming a father has given him a new perspective of the world around him, opening his eyes to next big thing. Whether that will be a tree remains to be seen.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 5, 2014.